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No Proof, No Leave: Insufficient Medical Documentation May Justify an Employer's Decision to Terminate an Employee on FMLA Leave

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Lewis v. United States, 641 F.3d 1174 (9th Cir. 2011) (0 other reports)

Author:Shannon C. Johnson

In Lewis v. United States, +641 F. 3d 1174 (9th Cir. 2011), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided whether an employer could lawfully terminate an employee who had not provided sufficient medical documentation to justify her request for FMLA leave.

The FMLA guarantees federal employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave within a twelve-month period for a "serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the requirements of the employee's position." However, employers may require an employee to provide medical certification to support a FMLA leave request. A medical certification must indicate the date the health condition began, the probable duration of the condition, the facts a healthcare provider (such as a doctor) relied on in making the diagnosis and a statement that the employee is incapable of performing his or her job functions due to the condition in question.

In this case, the 9th Circuit held that the plaintiff failed to submit sufficient medical documentation to substantiate her request for FMLA leave. The plaintiff's offering did not indicate why she was unable to perform her work duties or whether additional treatments would be required for her condition in the future. Given these shortcomings, the court held that the decision to terminate her employment was not a violation of Title VII or the FMLA.