Sick Leave Use Cannot Be Conditioned On FMLA Status

The Town of Woodbury, New York Police Department refused to allow an officer to use sick leave unless the officer qualified for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The officer’s labor organization, the Police Benevolent Association, challenged the Town’s decision in arbitration. An arbitrator upheld the grievance. The Arbitrator ruled that in the absence of any contractual provisions concerning the Town’s right to manage sick leave use, “the rule of reasonableness and good faith should be used to measure exercises of managerial rights and provides the standard to be followed by the Arbitrator in assessing the grievance. Whatever salutary purposes may be of FMLA leave, there is no reasonable basis the Arbitrator can find in the record that mandates an employee be prevented from using sick leave to which he is entitled under the contract by pairing it with FMLA leave.”

The Arbitrator also addressed the Town’s requirement that the officer provide a doctor’s note for each use of sick leave. The Arbitrator concluded that in the absence of any evidence that the officer had abused sick leave in the past, the general medical documentation provided by the officer would suffice instead of daily sick leave doctor’s slips.

Town of Woodbury and Town of Woodbury PBA, LAIG 6625 (Rinaldo, 2008).

This article appears in the December 2008 issue