The Family and Medical Leave Act, in 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1) provides:  

  

[A]n eligible employee shall be entitled to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following: … (Because of the employee’s own serious health condition) (or)  In order to care for the spouse, or a son or daughter, or parent, of the employee, if such spouse, son, daughter, or parent has a serious health condition. …   

29 U.S.C. §2611(11) defines “serious health condition” as including 

   

“an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves – –  

  

…   

(B) continuing treatment by a health care provider.”   

    The employee must give 30 days notice of the leave request, unless the date of the treatment under the circumstances does not allow that, in which case the employee must give as much notice “as practicable.”   

    The request does not have to be written, although in many cases the employer will have forms for the employee to fill out.  The request does not have to specify it is for “FMLA,” it is  sufficient if the information provided makes the employer aware that the condition probably fits within FMLA. An employer’s internal procedural  requirements cannot be more strict than required  by FMLA.   

   The employee does not have to provide medical documentation unless it is requested by the employer, in which case the employee clearly must comply with that request.   It is the employer’s duty to followup with any request for additional documentation.  Clearly, an FMLA request can be made, and leave taken, without necessarily providing any medical documentation at that point.  Documentation can take place later.    

   The twelve weeks of FMLA leave to which the employee is entitled may be taken intermittently.   

   Further, the leave can be taken in the form of a reduced work schedule.   

One type of wrongful termination case arises when  the employer’s conduct violating a statute that specifically gives the employee the right to sue when for a violation of the law,  such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, where there has been discrimination by sex or race.

But when there is no specific legal violation of a statute that sets forth a remedy for the employee, then under  case law of  the State of  Washington, there may still be a case of wrongful termination based on violation of “public policy.”

Washington courts have generally recognized the public policy exception when an employer terminates an employee as a result of his or her

1) refusal to commit an illegal act,

(2) performance of a public duty or obligation,

(3) exercise of a legal right or privilege, or

(4) in retaliation for reporting employer misconduct.

Danny v. Laidlaw Transit Services, Inc. 165
Wn.2d 200, 207-208, 193 P.3d 128, 131 – 132
(2008).
 
Examples of terminations that violate public policy doctrine are when an armored car driver got out of the vehicle, violating  his employer’s policy, to aid  a crime victim, and was fired. Another example was where an employer fired a woman for missing work due to domestic violence.

Call William Edelblute  Attorney at Law, (509)
928-3711 or bill@edellaw.com to see if your
circumstances could fit under the “public policy”
exception to the “at-will” doctrine.