Failing to report to work or to provide medical documents as requested supports the conclusion that the employee has abandonment the position

Failing to report to work or to provide medical documents as requested supports the conclusion that the employee has abandonment the positionMcKnight v NYS Dormitory Auth., App. Div., 267 A.D.2d 708, Motion for leave to appeal denied, 94 N.Y.2d 762 Lucille M. McKnight, a New York State Dormitory Authority [SDA] employee, stopped coming to work. From time to time "she presented belated, back-dated, sketchy notes and letters from health care providers that consistently evaded SDA's request for information" concerning her ability to work. SDA told McKnight that either she return to work or present medical documentation that she was totally unable to perform her duties. SDA also offered to provide a "reasonable accommodation" that would allow her to resume work. Ultimately SDA wrote McKnight that if she did not return to work by January 13, 1997, or provide satisfactory medical evidence of her inability to do so, it would deem her to have abandoned her position. When McKnight failed to report as directed, SDA terminated her. McKnight sued, complaining that SDA terminated her in bad faith and that it had denied her sick leave at half-pay after she had exhausted all of her leave credits on December 2, 1996. She also claimed that she was entitled to 12 weeks of leave under the Family Medical Leave Act [FMLA] before she could be lawfully terminated and that she had not received proper notice concerning her eligibility for FMLA leave. Justice Harold J. Hughes ruled that, under the circumstances, SDA's ultimatum was appropriate. He decided that McKnight had abandoned her position by failing to either report to work or provide satisfactory medical documents supporting her continued absence. According to the ruling, McKnight's failure complies with this directive "could serve as a legitimate basis" for SDA's conclusion that McKnight had abandoned her position "notwithstanding [McKnight's] continued interest in her job." The Appellate Division agreed and dismissed McKnight's appeal.

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