To what extent may an employer contact an employee on FMLA leave about work-related matters before that contact becomes, in effect, a denial of FMLA leave?
"Fielding occasional calls about one’s job while on leave is a professional courtesy that does not abrogate or interfere with the exercise of an employee’s FMLA rights," according to a 2009 federal district court in New York. When such calls are "limited to the scope of passing on institutional knowledge to new staff, or providing closure on completed assignments, employers do not violate the FMLA by making such calls," the court added.
In a later case, an employer required an employee on FMLA leave to complete reviews of her subordinates and to enter certain test data in a computer. The plaintiff also claimed her employer required her to complete certain educational training during her leave. Holding that a jury could find that the employer’s communications with the plaintiff went beyond merely passing on institutional knowledge and providing closure on completed assignments, the court denied summary judgment to the employer. Vess v. Scott Medical Corporation (S.D. Ohio, March 15, 2013).