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Make sure FMLA eligibility form doesn’t create a contract

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

A federal court has refused to accept the notion that a standard FMLA eligibility form sent to an employee creates a contract.

Recent case: Sears employee Gerard Atchinson was out on FMLA leave when the retailer laid him off.

He sued, alleging that Sears had sent him an FMLA eligibility form (that he signed), stating he was entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave, plus reinstatement. Atchinson argued the form created a contract and that he could not be terminated for at least one year.

The court disagreed, saying the FMLA form in question wasn’t a contract, just a standard FMLA eligibility notice. (Atchinson v. Sears, No. 08-3257, ED PA, 2009)

Advice: If the notice had created a contract, that would have been a huge game changer. Have your attorney review your FMLA forms to ensure they don’t compromise at-will employment status.

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