When an employee seeks leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or when she seeks a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the critical component for success is the same: communication. Whether it is completing the requisite FMLA forms or providing information as part of the ADA’s interactive process, both the employer and employee need to clearly provide information necessary to help the other make decisions. In the recent decision of Watson v. Drexel University, No. 19-1027, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177329 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 28, 2020) (Robreno, J.), the court addressed how an employee’s failure to provide all of the information required by the FMLA led to her legally supported termination.

Custodian ‘Hides’ Her Health Condition

Lachelle Watson was a custodian at Drexel when she was diagnosed in May 2016 with a gynecological condition causing her bleeding and fatigue. She told her supervisor, Daryl Carlton, who encouraged her to apply for FMLA leave and to contact Drexel’s human resources department. This was the one and only conversation Watson had with Carlton about her condition. Watson testified that, like many employees, she hid her condition “pretty well.”

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