Discouraging FMLA leave, not just denying it, can violate the law.

One of the key elements that employees must show to bring a successful FMLA interference claim is that the employer "denied or interfered with FMLA benefits to which the employee was entitled."

Most FMLA-interference lawsuits revolve around the actual denial of benefits. But a recent case illustrates that you also violate the law if you interfere in any way with the employee's "attempt to exercise any FMLA right." That can include creating a burdensome approval process or simply discouraging workers from requesting FMLA leave.

That's why it's vital to remind managers to never discourage employees from taking FMLA leave. Train supervisors to handle FMLA leave in a supportive, positive and upbeat manner.

Recent case: A long-time employee regularly took FMLA leave for his serious condition. When he told his boss he may need to take more FMLA leave, the boss said, "You've already taken serious amounts of FMLA. Don't take any more FMLA. If you do, we will discipline you."

Technically, the manager never actually denied the FMLA leave.

The worker decided not to take...

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