Is your chronically ill coworker just gaming the system?

by Evil HR Lady on November 7, 2011

Dear Evil HR Lady,

Due to your advice, I landed a great job about a year ago. There is only one problem. I work for a small department, and we have a coworker, Jim, who is a very nice guy with a serious absentee problem. For example, this year to date, he has called in sick 32 times. (We have a shared calendar where we track sick days, vacation, events etc.) In addition to calling in sick, he is habitually late and during winter, he frequently calls in on snowy days and says he can’t make it in. (We have another staff member who lives in the same area who has no trouble.) Last week, during a rainy morning, he called to say that he was stuck in traffic so he was going to go back home and wait and try to come in again around 10 or 10:30 (he was due in at 8:30.) This is not the first time he has done this. He has also been caught sleeping in his office multiple times.

He is eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because he has irritable bowl syndrome (IBS). This affects me because Jim is supposed to work the closing shift with me. When he is gone, I am left alone and have to do all the closing duties. Our current manager says that nothing can be done because of FMLA. We’re in the process of hiring a new director.

First, does this seem like a legitimate FMLA situation? Second, when the new director gets hired, should we say something to him/ her about this situation or just let them see if for themselves? We don’t want to come off as complainers but this is bothering us all. With such a small staff, anytime one of us has to take a vacation or sick day, it’s always in the back of our minds, “What if Jim calls in, too?”

To read click here: Is your chronically ill coworker just gaming the system?

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