In general, terminating an employee during his or her medical leave or shortly thereafter is highly risky. After all, suspicious timing alone can create a claim, experts told HR Dive.
If a termination is legitimate, however, and there is evidence to support it, an employer may be able to proceed without facing liability. In the case of Envoy, the employer did a number of things right, particularly when it came to following an established process. First, while it conducted both random and specific audits of employees' travel privileges, it was able to show that the employee in question had been selected at random. Second, Envoy waited until the employee returned from leave to finish up its investigation and ask him the necessary questions. It's important to leave leave-takers alone, Matt Morris, VP of FMLASource, ComPsych Corporation, said at a recent conference. While it may sometimes be necessary to reach out to an employee on leave with an important question, such occasions should be rare and handled with care, he said.