In today’s economic climate, employers are faced with many fiscal constraints, which often are exacerbated when an employee takes leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While the FMLA allows for leaves lasting up to 12 weeks, employees often seek to remain out of work for much longer periods of time. Frequently, employees request FMLA leave, but fail to provide the employer with a specific return date. Recent judicial decisions by courts across the U.S. have reinforced the position that employers are not required to grant employees FMLA leave when their return dates are ill-defined.
In Henry v. United Bank, on July 13, the 1st Circuit held that an employer is not required to hold open an employee’s job indefinitely while she is on FMLA leave. The court affirmed a magistrate judge’s ruling in favor of United Bank and rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the defendant’s proffered reasons for terminating her were a pretext. In terminating the plaintiff, United Bank noted that having only two credit analysts instead of three was placing a strain on the department in which Henry had worked.