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The United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans of any nation in the world. This benefits system traces its roots back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with the Pequot Indians. The Pilgrims passed a law which stated that disabled soldiers would be supported by the colony. The establishment of the Veterans Administration came in 1930 when Congress authorized the President to "consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans."

This forum also includes the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

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bolf  
#1 Posted : Sunday, August 11, 2019 7:34:28 AM(UTC)
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When FMLA coverage was to expire, my mother (the employee) asked to use SL/AL since her ex husband was hospitalized. Supervisor said 24 hours SL can be approved, but refused AL because of operational, etc.

There were 24 hours per pay period, so we thought we would deal with Dad first. But apparently he lied, because there was only 10 SL, and since she didn't show up, declared her AWOL for the other 14 hours. No call was received to indicate that she would be needed; the schedule still said LV.

This supervisor has been doing things like this for months, trying to force her to retire, although unlike previous letters, I don't see HR being CC'd. They claimed to have no medical accommodation and sent an RTD letter in the spring not allowing SL which forced her to get the same doctor to sign off, along with the FMLA form, even though they have 5 different things documenting her previous health issues.

Looks like he claimed there were enough SL hours when there were not, but we should have double checked. If she was to report to work, why no phone call saying that she was scheduled? Again we should have double checked but we were sitting in a hospital worried, surely that is an extenuating circumstance?

He never asked whether she was fit for duty, whether previous accommodation letters (which the RTD letter from the spring claimed did not exist but we have signed copies of) need to be changed, or any documentation of hospital records or FMLA medical notes. Those things are well within his rights to request but he wants to bully her into resigning. As soon as he heard she was thinking of retirement he has pulled out all the stops.

I know FMLA leave protections expired but denying AL and taking back money when someone has a family crisis seems very cruel. I want to go to the union and fight if he have the grounds, my mom wants to give up and retire (she was waiting for her 20th anniversary, but I guess they want to make her suffer).
ex-military  
#2 Posted : Monday, August 12, 2019 8:33:52 AM(UTC)
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Can anybody else follow what the question is?
bolf  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 4:25:31 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: ex-military Go to Quoted Post
Can anybody else follow what the question is?


Asking if supervisor broke any laws ADA, etc or any rules about AWOL (giving false info about total SL available, and declaring AWOL with zero attempt to contact).

I assume at least 1 rule was broken

frankgonzalez  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 7:29:32 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: bolf Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: ex-military Go to Quoted Post
Can anybody else follow what the question is?


Asking if supervisor broke any laws ADA, etc or any rules about AWOL (giving false info about total SL available, and declaring AWOL with zero attempt to contact).

I assume at least 1 rule was broken

I note that this is at least 3rd hand (the OP is not the federal employee). The issue is whether their mother could be on sick leave for the ex-spouse (no longer a family member if no longer married)...and the employee did not do everything by the book (from the OP)..and thinks the supervisor violated some rule.

No paper trail is identified (ie. My mother (the employee) emailed her supervisor about taking leave..), and I don't think SL is authorized for care of an ex-spouse (they are no longer a family member no matter how nice the divorce was).

Why does a supervisor need to call an employee to remind them to come to work? Employees should know they need to come to work if they are not on approved leave (exception: they have unexpected medical issues or their immediate family, such as spouse or child, does. Not an ex-spouse) FMLA was about to expire (it appears the FMLA was for the employee's medical needs, but not absolutely clear in the OP) when the employee inquired about SL. Did the employee properly request leave (a phone call may not qualify..the supervisor may presume it was just an inquiry of what could be done vs an actual request).

Finally, the OP is hearing only one side (again "hearing" vs being actually in the conversation) and has taken their parent's side as a result. The employee has been out on FMLA long enough there is no more left for the year. The only "family crisis" the employee has is the father of their child is sick. The employee is no longer "family" to this sick individual, so SL and FMLA would not apply. The OP has no clue what the operational needs of the workplace their mother is the employee at, and whether there was a real need for the mother to return to work.

The employee has stated they want to retire and not fight...but the child of the employee is quite willing to put their mother through a process the mother does not wish to enter.

Am I missing anything?

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
thanks 1 user thanked frankgonzalez for this useful post.
bolf on 8/13/2019(UTC)
bolf  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 8:57:58 AM(UTC)
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****** I appreciate your very detailed and very respectful response. I hope I clarified your questions with as much respect.


I note that this is at least 3rd hand (the OP is not the federal employee). The issue is whether their mother could be on sick leave for the ex-spouse (no longer a family member if no longer married)...and the employee did not do everything by the book (from the OP)..and thinks the supervisor violated some rule.

******* I should have put estranged husband, they are legally still married for religious reasons. Yes I am the employees son

No paper trail is identified (ie. My mother (the employee) emailed her supervisor about taking leave..), and I don't think SL is authorized for care of an ex-spouse (they are no longer a family member no matter how nice the divorce was).

****** message was sent asking for SL (and AL if SL not adequate) to be used after FMLA protections expired. Response was denial of AL, but allowance of all 24 hours of SL. As I stated, per pay period she would work 24 hours.



Why does a supervisor need to call an employee to remind them to come to work? Employees should know they need to come to work if they are not on approved leave (exception: they have unexpected medical issues or their immediate family, such as spouse or child, does. Not an ex-spouse)


******* I have never heard of an instance of a person who was scheduled to work and is absent multiple days never being contacted. Especially someone who is sick and just found about this family emergency. I guess that is just being courteous, not an obligation under federal regulations.


FMLA was about to expire (it appears the FMLA was for the employee's medical needs, but not absolutely clear in the OP) when the employee inquired about SL. Did the employee properly request leave (a phone call may not qualify..the supervisor may presume it was just an inquiry of what could be done vs an actual request).


******* The FMLA was for the employee's own health needs, and was about to expire when the hospitalization of the estranged husband occurred. Nothing in the AWOL letter indicates that the leave request was improper or incomplete, the only issue is the number of hours SL did not cover the full pay period as I had previously thought

Finally, the OP is hearing only one side (again "hearing" vs being actually in the conversation) and has taken their parent's side as a result. The employee has been out on FMLA long enough there is no more left for the year. The only "family crisis" the employee has is the father of their child is sick. The employee is no longer "family" to this sick individual, so SL and FMLA would not apply.


The OP has no clue what the operational needs of the workplace their mother is the employee at, and whether there was a real need for the mother to return to work.

****** Yes but after FMLA is there no obligation on the part of the supervisor to ensure that the employee can safely perform essential duties?
Technically the date on the FMLA memo that everyone received said her condition is not expected to resolve until 2021.

****** So all supervisors and HR know that the medical condition is ongoing but she can be forced to work until she has a heart attack and they have liability? Or is the burden on employee to include documentation in the AL request? Such as the entire doctor's FMLA certification?


The employee has stated they want to retire and not fight...but the child of the employee is quite willing to put their mother through a process the mother does not wish to enter.

******* The Awol letter is stating the intention to claw back 14 hours of pay. I wanted to get that money back, is it possible to retroactively resign before the AWOL days and have this all go away?


******* My mom was looking forward to that 20 year pin, she is very proud of having worked hard this long, I thought there was some way to get her that. If we have no grounds for filing a grievance (and I have power of attorney now so that would make it easier on her), I am sure she will settle for the above compromise as well
TheRealOrange  
#6 Posted : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 9:18:00 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: bolf Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: ex-military Go to Quoted Post
Can anybody else follow what the question is?


Asking if supervisor broke any laws ADA, etc or any rules about AWOL (giving false info about total SL available, and declaring AWOL with zero attempt to contact).

I assume at least 1 rule was broken

Based on the information provided, it's almost impossible to determine if any laws or even agency policies were broken. You indicate that you "want to go to the union and fight" if proper grounds exist. Again, it is impossible to tell whether any grounds exist based on the information provided. Also, exactly what is it that would be involved in the fight? Was your mother disciplined? If she was, what exactly was the discipline? Without knowing that, no suggestions can be validly made about the value of a "fight" seeking to overturn the discipline. Or, was she simply not allowed to use annual or sick leave and instead was required to code her time as AWOL? If that is what occurred, then in any fight she would need to show that she was entitled to use either annual leave or sick leave under the circumstances. As frankgonzalez noted, she probably was not entitled to use sick leave to care for an ex-spouse, but she would need to check the agency leave policy to make that determination. Some agencies allow the use of sick leave to care for anyone related through blood "or affinity" whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. I think it might be hard to show that type of relationship with an ex-spouse, but depending on the wording of the leave policy, it might be worth a shot. There are simply too many unknowns at this point to provide you or your mother with any useful guidance.
DaVinci95  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 9:31:11 AM(UTC)
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So the main issue is that the supervisor approved 24 hrs of SL but the employee only had 10 hrs available? It is the employee's responsibility to manage their leave balance. The employee could have requested advance sick leave to cover the balance. It may still be possible to request an advance to retroactively cover the deficit. Or ask the supervisor for permission to use LA to cover the difference since the leave has already taken place.

As for returning to work after FMLA, it is the employee's responsibility to request an extension or make other arrangements if they are not able to return to work.

It seems silly to be thinking about quitting over 14 hrs of missed pay. I also don't understand the purpose of retroactively resigning. She would still have to pay back the 14 hrs of overpayment.
bolf  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 9:37:55 AM(UTC)
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Or, was she simply not allowed to use annual or sick leave and instead was required to code her time as AWOL?
*****This is it, they are saying they will deduct 14 hours of pay for being AWOL, this is a large concern


So depending on how the leave policy of the VHA is written, that would determine whether she was entitled to ask for leave given the circumstances. As I said, they are legally still married, and her son was in panic mode when he called which is part of the family crisis.

Someone who has never been AWOL in 20 years does this once and notified that there was an emergency situation and the first response is deducting pay immediately with no grace period or appeal process.

I am just a bit shocked they would treat that badly and even with previous accommodation letters the ADA provides no protection either. If retroactive resignation doesn't exist maybe just giving up and leaving is next best. They just want her gone, and it doesn't look like she has many rights. 20 years of service.
bolf  
#9 Posted : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 9:47:26 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: DaVinci95 Go to Quoted Post
So the main issue is that the supervisor approved 24 hrs of SL but the employee only had 10 hrs available? It is the employee's responsibility to manage their leave balance. The employee could have requested advance sick leave to cover the balance. It may still be possible to request an advance to retroactively cover the deficit. Or ask the supervisor for permission to use LA to cover the difference since the leave has already taken place.

As for returning to work after FMLA, it is the employee's responsibility to request an extension or make other arrangements if they are not able to return to work.

It seems silly to be thinking about quitting over 14 hrs of missed pay. I also don't understand the purpose of retroactively resigning. She would still have to pay back the 14 hrs of overpayment.


It is not the hours, it is the fact that this gaslighting has been going on for months, years really. There is no way any supervisor or any employee there will do anything to make her life easier. They want her gone, and this is a good opportunity to kick her while she is down and they are correct. They beat up a sick old lady and won. She's probably better off not thinking about this anymore.
TheRealOrange  
#10 Posted : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 9:57:30 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: bolf Go to Quoted Post
Or, was she simply not allowed to use annual or sick leave and instead was required to code her time as AWOL?
*****This is it, they are saying they will deduct 14 hours of pay for being AWOL, this is a large concern

So depending on how the leave policy of the VHA is written, that would determine whether she was entitled to ask for leave given the circumstances. As I said, they are legally still married, and her son was in panic mode when he called which is part of the family crisis.

Someone who has never been AWOL in 20 years does this once and notified that there was an emergency situation and the first response is deducting pay immediately with no grace period or appeal process.

I am just a bit shocked they would treat that badly and even with previous accommodation letters the ADA provides no protection either. If retroactive resignation doesn't exist maybe just giving up and leaving is next best. They just want her gone, and it doesn't look like she has many rights. 20 years of service.

If she thinks there was a violation of the leave policy, then consulting with the union might be a good start. If the employee was caring for a current spouse ("they are legally still married") then the use of sick leave, and even advance sick leave, may have been allowable. Even so, it may not have been required, as the approval of leave generally involves supervisory discretion. How old is the employee? The original post mentions that she would prefer to retire. If she is 60 years old and has 20 years of service under FERS, then she would be eligible for an intimidate retirement annuity. If she is younger, then she would not qualify for a FERS retirement with just 20 years of service, unless she takes the reduction associated with or postpones an MRA+10 retirement or has been offered an early retirement (VERA). And, if she resigns with less than 20 years of service and doesn't qualify for an MRA+10 or early retirement, then she would receive only a deferred annuity at age 62, but would lose her health (FEHB) and life (FEGLI) insurance. While deducting 14 hours of pay for being AWOL may be a "large concern," is it really something worth leaving over? It seems to me that she should be carefully considering all of her options.

Edited by user Tuesday, August 13, 2019 10:03:10 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

DaVinci95  
#11 Posted : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 10:07:07 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: bolf Go to Quoted Post
Or, was she simply not allowed to use annual or sick leave and instead was required to code her time as AWOL?
*****This is it, they are saying they will deduct 14 hours of pay for being AWOL, this is a large concern


So depending on how the leave policy of the VHA is written, that would determine whether she was entitled to ask for leave given the circumstances. As I said, they are legally still married, and her son was in panic mode when he called which is part of the family crisis.

Someone who has never been AWOL in 20 years does this once and notified that there was an emergency situation and the first response is deducting pay immediately with no grace period or appeal process.

I am just a bit shocked they would treat that badly and even with previous accommodation letters the ADA provides no protection either. If retroactive resignation doesn't exist maybe just giving up and leaving is next best. They just want her gone, and it doesn't look like she has many rights. 20 years of service.


You don't work, you don't get paid. This is not a family business, it is a machine. Someone who has worked for the Government for 20 years should know this. The people sending the AWOL notice aren't being vindictive; they are following policy. There are mechanisms to request relief from the policy. The AWOL notice is the first step. The employee requesting relief per the process outlined in the policy is the next step.
bolf  
#12 Posted : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 3:25:45 PM(UTC)
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You don't work, you don't get paid. This is not a family business, it is a machine. Someone who has worked for the Government for 20 years should know this. The people sending the AWOL notice aren't being vindictive; they are following policy. There are mechanisms to request relief from the policy. The AWOL notice is the first step. The employee requesting relief per the process outlined in the policy is the next step.


More threats were sent. I have no idea where you worked but if you don't think harassment and bullying exist in the workplace I don't know what to tell you. I am not going to explain how it was vindictive because you already know.

My mother was the hardest working employee there, despite her heart surgery and never bothered anyone. I should have known better than to expect sympathy from a forum probably filled with the same bullies who are proudly high fiving each other to force what even her critics admit is the best worker in the department. She hurt herself working so hard. She was proud to work hard.

But she is resigning. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who tried to help.
TheRealOrange  
#13 Posted : Wednesday, August 14, 2019 2:41:51 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: bolf Go to Quoted Post
I should have known better than to expect sympathy from a forum probably filled with the same bullies who are proudly high fiving each other to force what even her critics admit is the best worker in the department. She hurt herself working so hard. She was proud to work hard.

I think that's an unfair characterization. This forum has been extremely helpful to many people in the past and continues to be a valuable resource to others. I think the lack of clarity about the employee's situation led to some misunderstanding.

Originally Posted by: bolf Go to Quoted Post
But she is resigning. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who tried to help.

How close is she to retirement eligibility? If she is close, and no discipline has been proposed, why would she resign? If she owes money (the excess leave used) then she will still be required to repay it or seek a waiver of the repayment, both things that would be in place even if she remains employed. I don't see how resigning is a good option. If she feels like she is being bullied/harassed, the agency should have an anti-harassment policy in place, and she could seek union assistance in utilizing the process in the policy to address that issue. She should try to avoid making a rash judgment and take the time to consider all of her options.
TheRealOrange  
#14 Posted : Wednesday, August 14, 2019 2:59:30 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: bolf Go to Quoted Post
More threats were sent. I have no idea where you worked but if you don't think harassment and bullying exist in the workplace I don't know what to tell you. I am not going to explain how it was vindictive because you already know.

Here is a link to the VA Office of Resolution Management (ORM), Harassment Prevention Program (HPP): https://www.va.gov/ORM/HPP.asp . She can make a report anonymously, if that is her desire:

All reports of hostile or abusive conduct and related information will be maintained on a confidential basis to the greatest extent possible. The identity of the employee alleging violations of the Harassment Prevention Policy will be kept confidential except as necessary to conduct an appropriate inquiry into the alleged violations or when otherwise required by law. Anonymous allegations of harassment will be investigated and monitored to the fullest extent possible.

Again, I recommend that she consider all of the available options before rushing into a resignation.
frankgonzalez  
#15 Posted : Wednesday, August 14, 2019 4:28:16 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: bolf Go to Quoted Post
****** I appreciate your very detailed and very respectful response. I hope I clarified your questions with as much respect.


I note that this is at least 3rd hand (the OP is not the federal employee). The issue is whether their mother could be on sick leave for the ex-spouse (no longer a family member if no longer married)...and the employee did not do everything by the book (from the OP)..and thinks the supervisor violated some rule.

******* I should have put estranged husband, they are legally still married for religious reasons. Yes I am the employees son

No paper trail is identified (ie. My mother (the employee) emailed her supervisor about taking leave..), and I don't think SL is authorized for care of an ex-spouse (they are no longer a family member no matter how nice the divorce was).

****** message was sent asking for SL (and AL if SL not adequate) to be used after FMLA protections expired. Response was denial of AL, but allowance of all 24 hours of SL. As I stated, per pay period she would work 24 hours.



Why does a supervisor need to call an employee to remind them to come to work? Employees should know they need to come to work if they are not on approved leave (exception: they have unexpected medical issues or their immediate family, such as spouse or child, does. Not an ex-spouse)


******* I have never heard of an instance of a person who was scheduled to work and is absent multiple days never being contacted. Especially someone who is sick and just found about this family emergency. I guess that is just being courteous, not an obligation under federal regulations.


FMLA was about to expire (it appears the FMLA was for the employee's medical needs, but not absolutely clear in the OP) when the employee inquired about SL. Did the employee properly request leave (a phone call may not qualify..the supervisor may presume it was just an inquiry of what could be done vs an actual request).


******* The FMLA was for the employee's own health needs, and was about to expire when the hospitalization of the estranged husband occurred. Nothing in the AWOL letter indicates that the leave request was improper or incomplete, the only issue is the number of hours SL did not cover the full pay period as I had previously thought

Finally, the OP is hearing only one side (again "hearing" vs being actually in the conversation) and has taken their parent's side as a result. The employee has been out on FMLA long enough there is no more left for the year. The only "family crisis" the employee has is the father of their child is sick. The employee is no longer "family" to this sick individual, so SL and FMLA would not apply.


The OP has no clue what the operational needs of the workplace their mother is the employee at, and whether there was a real need for the mother to return to work.

****** Yes but after FMLA is there no obligation on the part of the supervisor to ensure that the employee can safely perform essential duties?
Technically the date on the FMLA memo that everyone received said her condition is not expected to resolve until 2021.

****** So all supervisors and HR know that the medical condition is ongoing but she can be forced to work until she has a heart attack and they have liability? Or is the burden on employee to include documentation in the AL request? Such as the entire doctor's FMLA certification?


The employee has stated they want to retire and not fight...but the child of the employee is quite willing to put their mother through a process the mother does not wish to enter.

******* The Awol letter is stating the intention to claw back 14 hours of pay. I wanted to get that money back, is it possible to retroactively resign before the AWOL days and have this all go away?


******* My mom was looking forward to that 20 year pin, she is very proud of having worked hard this long, I thought there was some way to get her that. If we have no grounds for filing a grievance (and I have power of attorney now so that would make it easier on her), I am sure she will settle for the above compromise as well
1st. The ADA does not apply to federal employees. The Rehab Act of 1973 is what protects Feds (and has been around longer than the ADA).

2nd. The employee's doctor is the one to determine if the employee should remain out, not the agency. If the employee's doctor says the employee needs to remain out of work once FMLA has run out, then the agency has some options. One of which is requesting WHEN the employee will return to work. If it is open ended, then the agency can then remove the employee (MSPB has ruled time and again, open ended time away from the workplace is grounds for removal. Return should be in the near future). The FMLA certification is for FMLA. If the employee needs to be out longer, then new documentation is needed. Per your post, it appears you expect your mother to be out of the office until 2021. As a person with disabilities, I empathize with your mother, but as a federal employee, I'd advise she apply for Disability Retirement ASAP, as if I were the supervisor, I would support that application while also initiating removal actions so I could have an employee who could actually be at work.

3rd. Is there a written record of the supervisor approving the 24 hours of SL or simply a phone call? If the latter, then your mother may have an uphill battle. If there is a paper trail (email or text messages), then the challenge to the AWOL charge is easier.

4th. The employee knew the FMLA was ending and contact the supervisor about leave to care for their spouse (not ex- as you initially stated), therefore they knew they were due back at work absent an approved leave request. There had been contact between the supervisor and employee...why does the supervisor need to make further contact with employee? Granted, I tend to do so when I am in a leadership role to make certain nothing has happened but those in my office make a point to contact me if something comes up as well so I don't need to call them first.

Edited by user Wednesday, August 14, 2019 8:20:57 AM(UTC)  | Reason: corrected year of Rehab Act!! Typed before caffeine kicked in!

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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GSBS on 8/22/2019(UTC)
Tic3  
#16 Posted : Wednesday, August 14, 2019 6:52:41 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: DaVinci95 Go to Quoted Post
So the main issue is that the supervisor approved 24 hrs of SL but the employee only had 10 hrs available?


I don't think this is the case.

The original poster said

Originally Posted by: bolf Go to Quoted Post
Supervisor said 24 hours SL can be approved, but refused AL because of operational, etc.


In most agencies, it is standard leave policy that up to three days of sick leave CAN be approved, but anything after that requires documentation. This (to me) sounds like the supervisor was quoting a leave policy, not granting sick leave.

It's the employee's responsibility to know what their leave balance is, NOT the supervisor's. The employee should have known how much sick leave she had available and not taken more than that.

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