Forward Air may have to go to court after it granted but then denied a request forfrom an employee at its Harrisburg air freight facility. The woman found out her fiancé had cancer in August 2011. She married him shortly thereafter and requested leave to care for him. The company granted the leave.
She did not use her entire 12-week entitlement and requested more time off in February 2012. She claims that’s when the company fired her. Her fiancé died in June 2012.
She filed a complaint alleging Forward Air violated thewhen it denied her leave request. The company claims it is not subject to the FMLA because it does not have 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius. It asked the court to dismiss the case.
The federal judge hearing the case refused, claiming that factual issues are still in dispute and a jury should determine them. Barring a settlement, the case will now go to trial.
Note: Employers may provide FMLA-like benefits even if the law does not require it. However, leave policies must be administered in a fair and nondiscriminatory way.
How that will play out in this case remains to be seen. Forward Air may find this is a case of “no good deed goes unpunished.”
- Warn managers: Don't mention FMLA during discussion about discharge
- Remind employees to closely read the forms and policies they sign
- Check union contract when tallying FMLA leave, workers' comp absenteeism
- Injured worker insists on waiting for treatment
- Return employees to their jobs promptly after FMLA leave