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Keep solid time records to prove whether employee is eligible for FMLA leave

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

One criterion for employees to be eligible for FMLA leave is that they must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the FMLA leave (see box).

That’s why it’s important to track employees’ hours, even hours worked by exempt employees, too.

As the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) says, “In the event an employer does not maintain an accurate record of hours worked by an employee, including for employees who are exempt from the FLSA … the employer has the burden of showing that the employee has not worked the requisite hours. In the event the employer is unable to meet this burden, the employee is deemed to have met this test.”

Recent case: Sharon Gray worked as a custodian at a Florida school. After 28 years on the job, she filed a lawsuit claiming all types of discrimination. But because she waited too long to file most of her claims, the court dismissed them.

Her final claim was that she had been denied FMLA leave for foot surgery. She claimed there was no evidence she’d worked fewer than 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months. But the district had records showing Gray had worked just 1,235 hours, and was therefore 15 hours short and not eligible. Her case was dismissed. (Gray v. Vestavia Hills Board of Education, No. 08-11607, 11th Cir., 2008)

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