• LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

Don’t grant ‘FMLA leave’ if you’re not covered

by on
in FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Maternity Leave Laws

Employees are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the FMLA—if they have worked for a covered employer for at least one year and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the start of their leave. Employers must comply with the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees at locations within 75 miles of the employee’s workplace.

But employees who are promised they can take “FMLA leave” may have a claim against an employer even if it turns out the company isn’t required to comply because it has fewer than 50 employees. Employees can argue that the employer misled them, and that the company should therefore be required to comply with the FMLA.

Recent case:
Amy McFadden worked for a bank branch with just a handful of employees. When she became pregnant, a friend told her she should ask her employer for FMLA maternity leave.

That’s when someone in HR created a file labeled “Amy McFadden’s FMLA file.” Someone also told McFadden she was eligible for FMLA leave, but that her job was not guaranteed.

When McFadden returned from her leave, she was transferred to another branch. She quit and sued, alleging that she had been denied her FMLA right to reinstatement.

The bank explained that it never had more than 50 employees working within 75 miles, and therefore wasn’t required to provide FMLA leave.

But the court said it wasn’t that simple. Because the bank had specifically used the term “FMLA leave” and because McFadden relied on the bank’s statement she could take FMLA leave, it didn’t matter that the bank had too few employees to be covered by the law. (McFadden v. Seagoville State Bank, No. 3:08-CV-0467, ND TX, 2009)

Leave a Comment