FMLA Guidelines

We’ll assist you in tracking and managing intermittent FMLA leave … fighting FMLA fraud and FMLA abuse … and managing FMLA in general.

Beyond mastering FMLA regulations on intermittent leave, we’ll share FMLA guidelines on how to curb FMLA abuse, and dramatically improve your overall FMLA compliance.

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Employers aren’t allowed to pester employees to work during FMLA leave. Requiring the employee to work from home to complete assignments, for example, may amount to interference with the right to take FMLA leave. But not every contact or request is enough to support a lawsuit.
When an employer has an office with fewer than 50 employees within 75 miles of that location, those workers aren’t covered by the FMLA. Make sure you don’t inadvertently give them the impression that they are.

FMLA leave is an entitlement and interfering with that leave or punishing a leave taker will backfire. It may even mean personal liability for a manager who decides to punish an employee with an adverse action like termination or demotion.

Firing someone right after she requests FMLA leave or an ADA accommodation can often trigger a lawsuit. But timing close alone won’t sink your chances of winning—as long as you have a valid business reason for discharging the employee that is unrelated to illness or disability.

Q. We have an employee who is on final warning due to his poor attendance. The employee recently requested FMLA leave to care for his wife. While on FMLA leave, it was reported in the newspaper that the employee was arrested for drug possession. He was in jail for several days, including several workdays. The employee is now out of jail and wants to return to work. Can we treat the employee’s absences from work while in jail as occurrences under our attendance policy, or do we have to treat the time as FMLA leave, even though the employee could not have been caring for his wife the days in question since he was in jail?
A woman who claimed she feared she would be fired if she took leave to take family members to medical appointments has lost her fight to receive unemployment benefits.

If you have employees in several locations, some may be covered by the FMLA and others may not be. Keep careful track of which is which. The key eligibility factor in the following case was the number of employees working in one of the employer’s two offices. The magic number is 50.

In an August webinar, attorney Michelle Maslowski of Ogletree Deakins shone a spotlight on Family and Medical Leave Act edge cases that reveal what a puzzle this law can be ... and then provided answers.

Always view termination as an act that might be challenged in court. That’s especially true if the employee has taken FMLA leave in the past. Lawyers love to file FMLA retaliation suits, which can be lucrative. Defend against them by backing up your termination decision with solid documentation of performance or behavior problems.

Employers have the right to set reasonable call-off requirements for when an employee will miss a shift or arrive late. Employees can be required to follow those rules. If someone doesn’t, you can discipline him—even if you approved FMLA leave for the absence. But beware: If you don’t consistently enforce the call-off rule, you may be on the losing end of an FMLA lawsuit.

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