Employer Entitled To Certification Of Employee's Medical Condition For FMLA Leave

Author:Ms Mary Ann Oakley
Profession:Holland & Knight LLP

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which includes Alabama,

Florida and Georgia, has provided further guidance under the Family and Medical

Leave Act (FMLA) in the November 2000 decision in Cash v. Smith. An employee of

the company for more than a decade, Cash had suffered from various medical

problems for years without any adverse effect on her performance on the job.

Then she was diagnosed with diabetes and a seizure disorder at about the same

time as Smith replaced her former supervisor in the print shop.

Cash claimed that she told Smith about her diagnosis of diabetes in

confidence, and that Smith told other employees, thus violating her confidence.

She also began missing work more frequently. Once she exhausted all of her paid

leave for the year, Smith let her take unpaid leave whenever she requested.

After some months and more absences, Smith contacted the company's disability

management department to determine what to do. Cash was then asked to complete

the company's standard FMLA paperwork so that the company could determine if

her medical problems were serious enough to justify FMLA leave. Cash's

personal physician filled out the forms, noting that she was not disabled and

did not require FMLA leave.

Because Cash had not completed an important project she had been assigned,

and because she volunteered to assume typesetting duties when a typesetter

resigned, Smith reassigned her to that position. Her former position was

included in a posting for a new position, for which Cash, along with 12 others,

applied but was not chosen. She contended that she was the victim of

discrimination under both the FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act

(ADA). Her FMLA claim was that she was removed from her former position and not

given the new position for which she applied in retaliation for taking time off

from work for medical reasons.

The Court of Appeals observed that ìemployers have a statutory right to

require an employee requesting FMLA leave to obtain certificationî from a

health care provider that the employee is eligible for such leave. Cash's own

physician said that her conditions did not qualify for FMLA because they were

controlled by medication and she was able to perform the functions of her job.

Thus, her medical leave was not FMLA leave.

Cash also alleged that Smith violated the...

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