Court Upholds Denial of Leave Bonus

October 28, 2005 ( - The US 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that an employee who used a portion of his sick leave during a period covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was not entitled to a leave bonus from his employer.

SHRM reports that the City of Omaha, Nebraska has a policy awarding two hours of additional annual leave for each pay period in which an employee accrues at least 1,000 hours of sick leave, as long as the employee did not take more than 40 hours of sick leave in that year.

Jeffrey Chubb had accrued more than 1,000 hours of sick leave in 2003 when he took FMLA leave for a surgery. During his FMLA leave, Chubb substituted more than 40 hours of paid sick leave for his unpaid FMLA leave, according to SHRM. The city therefore did not award him the bonus leave.

Chubb sued and the district court ruled for the city. At issue in the appeal was whether Omaha violated the FMLA provision to restore an employee to “an equivalent position with equivalent employee benefits.” The court decided the city did not deny Chubb the benefit of bonus leave because of his FMLA leave, but because he had taken paid sick leave along with the FMLA leave.

Chubb argued that he was forced to substitute the paid leave for FMLA leave time. The court assumed that to be the case, but ruled it would not punish the city for putting Chubb in a better position, noting that he would have been unpaid otherwise.

The case is Chubb v. City of Omaha, 8th Cir., No. 05-1172 (Sept. 27, 2005).