Under the FMLA, employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the company’s work site are required to provide FMLA leave to their employees. But even if you’re a small employer, innocent mistakes could make the “50/75 rule” meaningless to you — and force you to provide FMLA leave. Learn how to avoid that trap.
Q. Our policy states employees must provide a doctor’s note if they take sick leave of three or more days. Are we violating any laws by demanding the doctor’s note, which includes a diagnosis?
If a recent 7th Circuit case is an indication, courts are taking a close look at whether groups of plaintiffs have enough in common to constitute a valid class. It may mean that employers will face fewer large class-action lawsuits.
Q. We recently hired someone we didn’t know has a severe allergy to peanuts. If she even smells peanut butter, she has a severe allergic reaction, requiring her to use an EpiPen and head to the emergency room. Could we have refused to hire her if we had known about her allergies?
Disclosing on a company calendar that an employee is out because of sickness or FMLA leave is problematic. An employer should never disclose that absences are due to medical or health reasons. You must maintain the confidentiality of such information.
Q. We have several 16-year-old girls working as servers in our restaurant. One worker’s mother told us about alleged harassment. Can we rely on our training for our defense?
Q. One of our employees was on military leave for six months. He will be reinstated at the same pay and position. While he was gone, all employees in his department received a 4% pay raise in recognition for their hard work in the past year. Must we pay him that raise?
Q. On three occasions, an employee threatened colleagues with physical violence. After the last incident, she explained to her manager that she is bipolar and going through a prescription change. She said she was unaware of making threats, was truly sorry and never meant any harm to anyone. Do we have to tolerate this behavior now that we know she may be disabled?
Q. We have surveillance cameras in several locations in our workplace that record activity, but no sound. The images can be viewed over the Internet by supervisors and HR personnel who have the password to the site. What should our privacy and electronic communications policy say about access to the camera feed?
Q. May we ask for a diagnosis when an employee requests a few days of sick leave? Or must we accept any doctor’s note without any explanation?