‘Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the workplace,
A few diligent employees were working apace,
Others had taken vacation to spend time with St. Nick,
While still others were absent having called in sick.

Some surely were, for it was cold and flu season!
But the Manager wondered if some had another reason.
The very next day was a paid holiday,
And some planned to travel to far, far away.

Some of them grumbled “we should have the day off,”
And some had displayed an unconvincing cough.
Although she hated to be such a Grinch,
Their absence had left their colleagues in quite a pinch.
How could she identify the dishonest faction,
And if so, could she take remedial action?

She could act out rashly, but what would be wiser,
Would be to contact her trusted legal adviser.

They could help her to notice some typical clues
To identify where there is sick leave abuse
One sleuthing method that is true and is tried,
Is to check if the employee had a vacation request denied.

Another way to find the clue that you seek,
Is to consider whether it is a holiday or other short week.
The Manager noticed this suspicious timing,
And your exhausted blogger cannot believe he is still rhyming.

The employee’s public social media posting
May tell whether he is sick, or just ghosting.
As the Manager grew increasingly suspicious,
Her trusted adviser reminded her, “be judicious.”

It is hard to prove sick leave lies and misdirections
And California employees have robust sick leave protections.
While sick leave abuse can be cause for discipline,
Remember the “Kin Care” law is not just for kin!

And while an empty office is a cause of frustration,
So too is a DLSE charge for retaliation.
Although you may think your “sick” worker is trimming his tree,
Even asking for a doctor’s note is not risk-free.

And before you assume the employee is just stuffing her stocking,
Please consider whether she is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Because not only is that the right thing to do,
Those are valid reasons for sick leave under AB 1522.

Be patient, look for patterns or habits.
Was he also “sick” Monday after the Easter Rabbit?
Discipline is fraught, and if you choose to do the deed,
Cautiously is how you should want to proceed.
The Manager sought advice, and could proceed without fight,
And at last, your blogger says Happy Holidays to all, and to all, a good night!

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Photo of Paul D. Knothe Paul D. Knothe

Paul Knothe is an associate in Liebert Cassidy Whitmore’s Los Angeles office.  Paul advises and represents clients in the areas of employment law and labor relations.  Paul has extensive experience in handling employment litigation, grievance arbitrations, administrative hearings, and providing day-to-day legal counsel…

Paul Knothe is an associate in Liebert Cassidy Whitmore’s Los Angeles office.  Paul advises and represents clients in the areas of employment law and labor relations.  Paul has extensive experience in handling employment litigation, grievance arbitrations, administrative hearings, and providing day-to-day legal counsel to clients.

Paul’s litigation practice includes matters in state and federal courts, including appellate courts pertaining to alleged discrimination and retaliation, wage-hour issues, and issues surrounding collectively bargained Memoranda of Understanding; handling all aspects of litigation, from case assessment and pre-trial motion practice, through all forms of discovery proceedings, and settlement, to trial.  Paul has litigated both class-action and single or multi-plaintiff employment matters.

Paul also regularly conducts thorough workplace investigations, with a focus on high-profile incidents or allegations against senior management personnel.

Prior to joining LCW, Paul practiced labor and employment law in both the public and private sectors.