Tag Archives: Court Decisions

When You Don't Train Your Managers on the FMLA, You're Begging for This Kind of Smackdown

When a manager learns that one of his employees is in the hospital for several days, that’s almost always enough information for the employer to have an inkling that the employee may need FMLA leave. But one employer didn’t think so. And the penalty for its mistake was costly. Let me explain. The Facts Grace worked for the … Continue Reading

Poorly Implemented FMLA Policies and Procedures are Killing Employers. Don't Be That Employer.

Poorly implemented FMLA policies and procedures are in the spotlight this week.  And just a few vague words and a slip up are costing two employers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Their mistakes, however, are golden lessons for the rest of us. Confusion Over How Much Maternity Leave is Provided In Sad Employer Story No. … Continue Reading

Sweet Justice! Dismissal of Bully's FMLA Claim Proves Employers Can Safely Terminate an Employee on the Heels of FMLA Leave

I hate bullies. Back in 4th grade, Sister Mary Demetria, OSF, told us that “hating” someone was a sin. I’m convinced Sister never met a bully. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. Cause, you see, whenever I read about a bully getting a good smack down, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. Such … Continue Reading

Note to Self: Posting My Beach Vacation Photos on Facebook During FMLA Leave is Not a Good Idea

I always love a good social media FMLA smack down. It’s even better when the employer handles the situation in textbook fashion. Today’s installment offers both, while also providing a road map for employers when investigating suspected FMLA abuse. Let me share the story of Rodney. Rodney was the activity director for Accentia Health, a … Continue Reading

ABA's Summary of 2015 FMLA Cases an Outstanding Resource for Employers, Attorneys

This is one of the most exciting days of the FMLA year for me. Literally, one of those Steve Martin “The phone books are here!” days. Why? Every mid-February or so, the American Bar Association’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee publishes a comprehensive report of FMLA decisions handed down by the federal courts in the … Continue Reading

Use The "Rolling" Method to Calculate FMLA Leave! This Employer Learned the Hard Way

Every once in awhile, I find myself counseling an employer with either no FMLA policy or one completely lacking any meaningful details. Often, these policies fail to include key provisions to protect against liability. Take, for instance, the FMLA 12-month period. As employers are aware, an otherwise eligible employee is entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA … Continue Reading

When a Manager Makes Even One Stupid Comment after an FMLA Request, the Employer Pays the Price

How would you like to work alongside Jim, who engages in the following behavior: He makes a habit of telling co-workers what they are doing wrong, using a degrading tone of voice, and instigates arguments when doing so.  Jim regularly uses a belligerent tone of voice with co-workers. When his supervisor tells him to act more … Continue Reading

Requiring an Employee to Return from FMLA Leave "Without Restrictions" or "Fully Healed" Is Playing with Fire

Do you know what happens when you maintain a policy or practice that requires an employee to return to work without restrictions or “100% healed”?  You pay.  A lot. Just ask Brookdale Senior Living Communities. Brookdale employed Bernadine, who suffered from fibromyalgia. According to the EEOC, Brookdale refused Bernadine’s accommodation requests for a temporary modified work schedule, an ergonomic … Continue Reading

A Cruise Aboard the Love Boat is Not Protected by the FMLA, Even When the Doc Says It's a Good Idea

This post has nothing to do with Netflix and its new, generous parental leave policy.  Or GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s latest position on paid leave. Sorry to disappoint. But it does involve an exotic boat cruise. And of course, the FMLA. Tantalizing? Jump aboard the Love Boat to find out… The Facts Lucy worked for the State … Continue Reading

FMLA FAQ: If Your Employee Checks into the Hospital After Midnight, Is It an "Overnight Stay" under the FMLA?

Q: One of my employees complained of chest pains at work and later went to the emergency room at the local hospital. However, we have learned through his medical certification that he was not admitted to the hospital until after midnight.  He spent most of the day in the hospital and was discharged later that same day. … Continue Reading

DOL Will Not Enforce Final FMLA Regulation Regarding Same-Sex Spouses in Four States

Last week, I reported that a federal district court in Texas had halted the DOL’s enforcement of its final rule that would allow employees to take FMLA leave for their same-sex spouse. Following that court order, the DOL now has represented that it will not enforce the rule in the four states covered by the decision — Texas, … Continue Reading

Texas Court Puts a Halt on DOL Enforcement of the New FMLA Rule Extending Leave Rights to Same-Sex Couples

A federal judge in Texas granted an injunction on Thursday that (for the time being) has stopped enforcement of the DOL’s final rule regarding the definition of spouse.  Under the new rule, which was scheduled to take effect today, the FMLA would cover same-sex spouses if the marriage occurred in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage and … Continue Reading

Now This is a Headache! Employee Terminated for Migraine Headaches Can Advance FMLA Claim

In the cold, sadistic world that is the FMLA, the Department of Labor tells us that ordinary, run-of-the-mill headaches (a/k/a “non-migraine” headaches) are not covered by the FMLA.  Migraine headaches, on the other hand, are covered. When I try to explain the difference in FMLA training sessions for employers, they often look at me like … Continue Reading

Dear Employers: We Have to Stop Sticking It to Pregnant Moms and Expectant Dads

Although I eagerly anticipate the arrival of a baby due to be born in the Nowak family within the next couple of weeks [number 4…somebody help me!], I assure you that my status as “expectant dad” is not clouding my objectivity regarding the rights of moms and dads in the workplace. But the fact of … Continue Reading

Did a Court Just Allow an Employee FMLA Leave to Care for Her Grandchild?

Grandparents across America are celebrating this week.  And they have Suzan Gienapp to thank.  Here’s why: The Facts Suzan, who worked for Harbor Crest (a nursing home), informed her manager in January 2011 that she needed time off to care for her daughter, who was undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer.  Harbor Crest granted her FMLA leave. … Continue Reading

Does an Employer Have an Obligation to Provide Accommodations to Pregnant Employees? Don't Follow This Employer's Lead

Ena Wages served as a property manager for one of several apartment complexes owned by Stuart Management Corp.  She began her employment on November 17, 2008, and this is significant under the FMLA because nearly one year later, on November 13, 2009, Ena’s physician restricted the number hours she could work as a result of … Continue Reading

Are Inflexible Leave Policies Lawful After All? One Court Leaves Employers Salivating

When it comes to leave as a reasonable accommodation after FMLA leave is exhausted, employers have been conditioned to simply believe: inflexible leave policies bad, flexible leave policies good.  In fact, many of us have become so good at this conditioning it would make Ivan Pavlov proud [you know, the guy who conditioned his dog to … Continue Reading
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