American Idol alum Jordin Sparks walked the red carpet just three days after giving birth to her son and has done a slew of interviews discussing this new chapter of her life. While Sparks is certainly a trooper for bouncing back so quickly after a major medical event and putting herself back into the celebrity spotlight, in the real world outside of Hollywood, employees who are covered by the FMLA cannot be rushed back to work or pressured to work during FMLA leave.
Supervisors who repeatedly tell employees on FMLA how much the company needs them and how indispensable they are to the organization may make employees feel as if they have no choice but to continue to work during FMLA leave, or to return from FMLA leave before they are legally required to do so. In such situations, an employee may have a claim of FMLA interference.
On the other hand, if a super trooper employee akin to Jordin Sparks elects to cut short her FMLA leave (including FMLA leave after giving birth) and wishes to return to work early, the employer cannot force the employee to remain on FMLA leave or guilt a new mother into using the extra leave time to bond with her new baby.
Bottom Line: When it comes to the FMLA, whether your intentions are good or not, leave the guilt trips to your mother. Employers should not pressure employees into foregoing their right to take FMLA leave or suggest that employees return from FMLA leave early. At the same time, employers cannot force an employee to stay out on FMLA leave longer than the employee and his or her doctor deem necessary.