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A Fraudulent FMLA Claim? Who would dare?!

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, covering federal court claims in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, recently provided an important interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) certification process. Under the Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, Section 825.216(d), an employee who fraudulently obtains FMLA leave is not protected by the FMLA’s job restoration or maintenance of health benefits provisions.

The case before the Seventh Circuit, Smith v. The Hope School, 560 F.3d 694, provided guidance on a related question:  whether an “embellished” certification form should be treated the same as a wholly fraudulent certification.

In Hope School, the employee seeking FMLA leave altered the certification date and added an “attending physician statement” which the employee filled out entirely on her own, including her self-diagnosis of depression.

The significance to employers of Hope School is the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held that an “embellished” certification form should be treated the same as an outright fraudulent certification form, and held that the employer properly denied FMLA benefits to the employee.

If you have legal questions or need professional guidance on FMLA issues in your workplace, please contact one of our labor and employment lawyers .