In a decision that will undoubtedly be welcomed by employers, the court in Tome v. Harley Davidson Motor Co., No. 1:CV-06-2155, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78789 (M.D.Pa. Oct. 24, 2007) found that Harley Davidson did not violate the FMLA by rejecting as inadequate a medical certification identifying the frequency of episodes of incapacity as "completely unpredictable."
In so finding, the court concluded that the requirement in 29 CFR 825.305(d) that an employer must notify an employee when it determines that a medical certification is incomplete also applies where the certification is, as here, complete but inadequate. The court noted that, in accordance with the requirements of the FMLA, Harley Davidson properly informed the employee that "completely unpredictable" was not acceptable, and that it gave the employee a reasonable period of time (a month) to fix the problem. When the employee did not fix the problem, Harley Davidson had the right to deny the employee's request for FMLA leave.
Comment: A growing number of courts have rejected so-called "blank check" medical certifications that fail to provide meaningful information regarding the estimated frequency and duration of FMLA absences.