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Employers need to communicate workplace policies

Employers sometimes seem to invent reasons for why an employee should be terminated from their employment. Wrongful termination can occur simply because they failed to abide by a policy that no one had ever educated them upon. This can happen in Indiana, our neighboring state of Ohio or anywhere else in the nation.

In Cincinnati, a worker was fired for allegedly violating company policy concerning Family and Medical Leave Act benefits. The problem with this firing was that the employer failed to explicitly explain to the employee what the company's policy was concerning this act.

Here's what occurred: the Cincinnati employee had asked his employer for leave from April 27, 2005 to June 27, 2005 due to an injured shoulder. The employee's request was granted and the employee took his leave.

His shoulder did at first seem to be healing and a doctor approved for him to return to work on June 13, 2005. Unfortunately, the employee again began experiencing pain to the shoulder and informed his employer he still did not attend to return to work until June 27th.

The employee submitted a note to his employer on June 17th from his doctor asking to extend his leave until July 18th. However, he was told that he had been fired from his job because of unexcused absences from June 13th until the date that he presented this note (though the employee was not aware that the absences were unexcused).

There were issues here in this case as to whether his employer used the "rolling" rather than the "calendar" method for calculating FMLA leave. Still, the real crux of the case as was decided by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was that an employer simply failed to communicate its policy to its employee and then fired the employee anyway. The court ruled it was not acceptable to terminate an employee under such circumstances.

Source: Business Insurance, "Employer did not communicate FMLA policy, can't fire worker: Appeals Court," by Judy Greenwald, Jan. 24, 2012

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The work of BPW Foundation supports workforce development programs and workplace policies that recognize the diverse needs of working women, communities and businesses. the mission is to create create successful workplaces for women, their families and employers.

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