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Business Law Chapter 29 Homework Vinces Position The Middle The Scenario And

Page Count
4 pages
Word Count
1064 words
Book Title
Applied Business Ethics: A Skills-Based Approach 1st Edition
Authors
Dean Bredeson
MODULE 29: The Family and Medical Leave Act and
“Fake Illnesses”
Core Module Issues:
How much should a company investigate if an employee claims an
illness?
What should a company do if evidence emerges that the employee is
faking or exaggerating a claimed illness?
Module Teaching Notes
As a previous module examines, Americans work long hours. This can lead to burnout. In some cases,
burnout can lead to workers looking for creative ways to reduce the amount of time spent at the office. And
for some such workers, claiming illnesses that do not exist can be a temptation.
Many organizations have a fixed number of sick days or personal days, but this module is not meant to raise
the use of that kind of time off. Rather, it focuses on employees who seek to force employers to give them
time off by invoking (and abusing, since they are not actually ill) their rights under the FMLA.
I think that it is good for students to be aware of the coverage of the FMLA for its own sake, and so I spend
a bit more time than usually lecturing at the start of this module and cover the FMLA in some detail.
Workers can demand a leave of absence if:
2. Their employer has at least 50 employees, AND
3. They are pregnant, adopting a child, or have a “serious illness” in their immediate family, which is defined
as parents, children, and spouses.
To be “serious”, a health problem must require hospitalization or multiple doctor visits.
If a person qualifies for FMLA leave under these criteria, then he/she can demand up to 12 weeks of
UNPAID leave per 12 months.
Now, the unpaid nature of the leave stops a fair percentage of abuse. Workers miss paychecks until they
return. But some exaggerate or invent health problems anyway.
If a worker claims a dubious illness, a company can demand a doctor's note. If the company is still
skeptical, it can require a worker to visit a company-selected doctor, and potentially even a second
company-selected doctor. But these steps are often ticklish.
A worker who turns out to actually be sick will not be happy about being forced to visit a strange doctor, may
complain to coworkers, and may lower the firm's morale.
On the other hand, if a worker is essentially skipping work for no good reason, and if everyone else has to
work harder while he is gone, morale can be lowered even more.
This scenario is meant to spark debate about if and when companies should be aggressive in verifying an
illness claimed by a worker who seeks FMLA leave.
Discussion Points for Scenario Questions
1. If you had been in Vince's position in the middle of the scenario and had seen the “acute
medical illness” note, would you have required Al to visit a company-selected doctor, or would
you have left it alone?
A. SEE A DOCTOR WHY? WOULDN'T YOU EXPECT DOCTORS TO BE A
BIT VAGUE, BECAUSE OF MEDICAL PRIVACY LAWS
2. If you were in Vince's position as the scenario ended, would you insist on Al keeping the
appointment with Dr. Franklin?
A. SEE THE DOCTOR WHAT IF HE REALLY IS SICK? WON'T HE
(JUSTIFIABLY) BE ANGRY?
B. NO DOCTOR VISIT AGAIN, DOESN'T EVERYTHING SMELL FISHY?
3. Assume that Al goes to see Dr. Franklin, and that the doctor finds nothing wrong with him.
Assume further that the company sends Al to a second doctor, who also finds nothing wrong.
Should Al then be fired? Disciplined in some other way? Or would you allow him to escape
punishment if he showed up for work?
A. FIRE HIM WOULDN'T THAT MMAKE PEOPLE AFRAID TO CALL IN
SICK, EVEN IF THEY WERE REALLY SICK?
4. If a worker has never applied for FMLA leave before, is it sensible to require additional
doctor visits after a doctor's note is produced? What if it is a dubious-looking note like the one in
this scenario?
A. SEE A SECOND DOCTOR WON'T THAT DOSCOURAGE ANYONE
FROM CALLING IN SICK? DON'T YOU WANT PEOPLE WHO ARE
ACTUALLY SICK TO CALL IN SICK TO AVOID SPREADING ILLNESS TO
COWORKERS?
5. In the late 1990s, when the economy was roaring along, there was some talk in Congress
about changing the FMLA to allow for workers to take paid medical leave. “Workers who live
paycheck-to-paycheck can't afford to take advantage of this law,” some members of Congress
argued. But then the tech-bubble bursting in the early years of the twenty-first century and the
mortgage meltdown a few years later put any discussion about paid FMLA leave on the
backburner.
A. ASSUME THAT, FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, THE ECONOMY IS AGAIN
DOING GREAT. WOULD IT BE A GOOD IDEA FOR CONGRESS TO REVISE
THE FMLA TO REQUIRE THAT WORKERS BE PAID DURING MEDICAL
LEAVES OF ABSENCE OR WOULD SUCH A CHANGE MAKE THE KIND OF
SITUATION DESCRIBED IN THE SCENARIO ABOVE BECOME MORE
COMMON?
B. MAKE LEAVE PAID BUT WOULDN'T TONS OF NEW PEOPLE FAKE
ILLNESSES?

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