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Presbyterian Healthcare agrees to comply with Family and Medical Leave Act policies

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Presbyterian Healthcare Services has settled federal allegations that it violated Family and Medical Leave Act policies and practices, including “wrongful denial of leave to nearly a dozen eligible employees,” the Department of Labor said Tuesday.

DOL said Albuquerque-based investigators “found several FMLA violations that affected more than 9,600 employees,” among them “improperly requesting more information than permitted under the law.”

Presbyterian did not acknowledge any wrongdoing but agreed to comply with the law and to improve its family and medical policies by training its managers, updating policies for handling call-in requests for leave, providing adequate warning to employees who will require medical clearance to return to work, and other changes.

Kristen Krebs, a Presbyterian spokeswoman, said the system approved 1,517 FMLA leave requests in 2012 and denied 141. She said nine of those denials “had minor problems.”

“We are complying to letter of law and in the spirit of the statute,” Krebs said. “Employees are key to Presbyterian, and we do everything we can for them.”

According to the Labor Department, the FMLA prevents an employer from using an employee’s request or use of leave “as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary procedures.”

Department investigators said some employees improperly were denied leave and others “were arbitrarily moved to a different position while on intermittent family medical leave” and were “required to make multiple call-ins to different departments” while on leave.

They said Presbyterian also violated rules governing documentation of employees’ medical conditions.