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Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules that an Employee Does Not Always Need to Comply with Employer’s Heightened FMLA Notice Policy

/ 08/15/2010

Employees do not always need to comply with an employer’s heightened notice policy to maintain Family Medical Leave Act protection.  Saenz v. Harlingen Med. Center, L.P., No. 09-40887 (5th Cir. Aug. 2, 2010), available at

Saenz’s employer required employees to contact its FMLA administrator within two days after each leave period for approved intermittent leave.  Saenz complied many times for seizure-related absences.  Then, Saenz suffered hallucinations.  She was taken to her employer’s emergency room (where a supervisor visited her) and committed to a behavior center after her mother obtained guardianship of her.  Ten days later, Saenz asked her employer’s FMLA administrator to approve intermittent FMLA leave for her new condition, but her employer fired her for absenteeism, citing her failure to comply with its two-day notice policy.

The trial court granted summary judgment for Saenz’s employer.  On appeal, the Court reversed.  The Court found that fact issues existed as to whether the employer could rely on its heightened notice policy because it had actual notice of Saenz’s condition and because no evidence showed that Saenz affirmatively refused to comply with the policy.  The Court also found that Saenz satisfied the FMLA’s more relaxed notice requirements because she contacted her employer and stated that leave was needed as soon as was practicable under the facts and circumstances of her situation.  The Court remanded the case. 

To speak to an employment attorney about an FMLA issue, contact the Dallas employment lawyers at Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP at


Press Release Contact Information:


Clouse Dunn
Khoshbin LLP

214.220.3833 ( fax)

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