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No FMLA Claim for Employee Who Failed to Submit Documentation

Diana Dulany was a long-term employee of the United States Post Office. Beginning in 2014, Ms. Dulany needed FMLA leave, first to care for her mother, then sometime later she used intermittent FMLA for her own anxiety disorder and attention deficit disorder. During this same time period, USPS wrote her up for attendance problems because she was late to work, missed work, or left early. After her third write up, Ms. Dulany told USPS that she would be going out on leave for “acute stress response.” She did not specifically ask for FMLA leave, as she had previously, and she did not respond when USPS requested documentation of her ailment. She received a fourth warning letter and was designated “Absent Without Official Leave.” She was reassigned to a less desirable area and received a new schedule that she was not happy with. Ms. Dulany resigned.
A federal district court dismissed her case for FMLA interference. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that dismissal. First, she claimed that the USPS should have considered her leave as FMLA. However, Ms. Dulany failed to submit any of the medical certification requested by USPS to support her medical need for the leave. USPS had warned her that without the supporting documents, she would be considered absent without leave. Ms. Dulany had provided a psychologist’s letter when she returned but it referred only to her need for intermittent leave, and not her extended absence.
Ms. Dulany’s retaliation claim also failed. While the court acknowledged that she showed some evidence of retaliation, USPS had shown several nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision to issue her the warning letters. According to USPS, Ms. Dulany had not shown up for work when she was supposed to, she had arrived late or left early on 17 occasions, and she had failed to report to work on the date specified.