red flagsIt’s Webinar Time!

The year 2014 has ushered in a host of fascinating developments involving the FMLA. Courts across the country have issued critical decisions on an employee’s notice of the need for FMLA leave; whether an employee can affirmatively decline FMLA leave; combating FMLA abuse; and caring for a family member.

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dali-clock-150x150.jpgIn a recent post, I discussed an employer’s obligation to designate leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act even though the employee did not want it to be classified as FMLA leave. 

The post generated considerable feedback and some follow-up questions.  I wanted to highlight one of those questions.  One of our blog followers (see right

Monday, February 6, 2012 is a bittersweet day for employers across New York and elsewhere.  Just hours earlier, their employees watched the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.  For these employers, however, many of their employees won’t be at work Monday morning.  The reason?  In a 2008 survey conducted by The

wrong-addition.jpgQ. We employ an FLSA-exempt employee who has been certified for intermittent FMLA leave for migraine headaches.  He averages two to three intermittent absences per month.  Normally, I would calculate the employee’s total FMLA allotment as 480 FMLA hours (12 weeks x 40 hrs/wk), but he claims he should be entitled to 600 FMLA hours because

In this opening weekend of major league baseball, hope springs eternal for every baseball fan.  In honor of my beloved Chicago White Sox, I offer an FMLA lineup card below that from top to bottom will help employers stay atop the pennant race throughout the year.

[First, feel free to play the National Anthem if you so desire…]

From the Leadoff Hitter to the end of the lineup, here are my FMLA All Stars:Continue Reading Play Ball! An FMLA Lineup That Keeps You in the Pennant Race

Super Bowl.jpegThis morning, the sound of the morning alarm was harsh reality for scores of employees throughout Wisconsin.  After celebrating a Packers Super Bowl victory late into the night (a bitter pill for this Bears fan to swallow!), they have no interest in dragging themselves out of bed and heading into work.  For employers, you need not be located in Wisconsin to suffer the effects of the Super Bowl.  Case in point — I was talking with an HR professional (located outside of WI.) last week who was not looking forward to the day after Super Bowl Sunday, when she spends much of her day processing leave of absence requests — nearly all of which come from employees who called off right before the Monday morning shift started.

Some of the employees have fairly legitimate reasons for their absences (“My son, Johnnie, ate Aunt Erma’s chili last night and he can’t keep anything down this morning); others phone in ambiguous reasons such as, “I am taking FMLA again today,” or “Remember that thing I was dealing with three weeks ago … well, it’s acting up again.”

For HR professionals, the employer response to these phone calls is one of the most difficult they face: Do I count this as an ordinary sick day? Do I ask for more information? Can I ask for more information? What precise “thing” is “acting up” again?  Does this information trigger FMLA leave?

What can an employer do to obtain more information from the employee in these situations?Continue Reading Suffering from Super Bowl-Induced FMLA Leave?

For employers, it pays to listen closely to the reason for which an employee requests time off, since the reason may not always be covered by the FMLA.  Kind of like occasions when the employee tells you he needs time off to clean his mother’s flooded basement.

Take Joe Lane, a medical technologist for Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital.  Joe, who lived with his mother, sought and was granted FMLA intermittent FMLA leave for six months to care for his mom, who suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure, weight loss and arthritis.  He needed leave from time to time to provide her food and transport her to doctors’ appointments, which he did without issue for the next four months.

For Joe, when it rains, it pours. Literally. Right into his mother’s basement. Joe was absent for four consecutive days and, in violation of the Hospital’s personnel policies, he failed to call in his absences. Thereafter, he informed the Hospital that he would need additional time off to clean up flooding in his mom’s basement. He claimed that the “flood cleaning days” should be excused because his mother had hepatitis and the stagnant water was a “breeding ground” for the disease. The Hospital disagreed and fired him.

At that moment, Joe’s FMLA claims went down the drain.Continue Reading Cleaning Up Mom’s Flooded Basement Not Protected by FMLA