I am bursting at my FMLA seams, and I’ve been dying to share the news with my blog readers.

A few weeks ago, six colleagues and I decided to leave our Chicago-based boutique firm and venture toward the labor and employment powerhouse: Littler Mendelson P.C. Littler is the world’s largest employment practice representing employers, and I am joining with dear friends and phenomenal attorneys, Dave Radelet, Chris Johlie, Staci Ketay Rotman, Terry Creamer and Leah Farmer.

I knew I reached FMLA nirvana when I attended my very first meeting at Littler: a 7am Saturday morning confab that was part of a Littler shareholders’ annual retreat. Packed into the conference room were about 25 other Littler shareholders whose sole mission in life is to conquer FMLA, ADA and state leave law issues on behalf of employers.

At 7am on a Saturday morning, there ain’t nothing that gives me goose bumps.

But at this 7am call to order of 25 FMLA nerds? Goosebumps. Full on goosebumps. Next thing they’ll tell me is that we bake FMLA cupcakes together on Fridays as a team-building exercise.  [Ahem, Littler: I prefer pistachio, please.]

And that’s just the core group, mind you. In joining Littler, I’m now a member of the “Leave and Accommodation Practice Group,” which consists of nearly 250 Littler attorneys who ❤ leave and accommodations law almost as much as I do.  This group is headed up by Michelle Falconer and Casey Kurtz, and it’s a force to be reckoned with.

At that memorable 7am meeting, one of my new leave law colleagues, Ellen Storch, forecasted what my Littler experience would be like. “Before I joined Littler, it’s as if I practiced in black and white. With everything Littler offers to practice law, I feel like I now practice in technicolor.” Well said, Ellen. Well said.

For years, I’ve admired Littler attorneys who have been a wealth of knowledge and wisdom for me in the FMLA area — people like Dana Connell, Erin Webber and Alexis Knapp. Now, I get to practice law with these friends, and our clients reap the benefits.

Enough of the Sappy Stuff, Jeff! Are There FMLA Lessons to Learned Here?

My dear readers: as you scroll through this post, I can tell you’re worried about me. Indeed, I sense exactly what’s on your mind: Jeff, you’re exposed. Because you’ve not worked for Littler for 12 months and 1,250 hours, you can’t take any FMLA leave for at least one whole year. Are you absolutely positive you want to do this?

I want to put your mind at ease right out of the gate. So, I’ve compiled the following FAQs based off the questions I’ve received from you over the past few weeks. These Q&As might just apply to a few of your own employees, too.

Q.  Are You a Temp Employee at Littler? Or are You a Regular, Full-time Attorney and Do Your Hours Count Toward FMLA Eligibility?  We ask because we’re concerned that any firm would want to hire on a full-time basis a guy who spends so much of his time infatuated with the FMLA?

A. I know — I totally pulled one over on Littler, as I’ve wanted to slowly let them in on my FMLA obsession. Who ever would want a guy so enamored with leave and accommodation law? A bit creepy, perhaps?

Never fear, I am a shareholder, and I’ve been told I am a full-fledged regular employee of the firm.  Even if I were a temp employee, the DOL has made clear that these hours count toward my FMLA eligibility. In fact, I covered this rather quirky concept in a previous blog post.

Q.  If Littler asked you to practice for a time in one of its international offices, would you still be covered by the FMLA?

A. Ah yes, thanks for the reminder! Have I mentioned that Littler is the largest employment practice in the world representing employers with attorneys licensed in all 50 states, offices in 35 out of the 50 states (as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico) and in approximately 20 countries around the globe?  We literally can assist clients anywhere and everywhere.

But I digress. To answer your question, with the exception of Title VII, ADA and ADEA, employment laws do not apply to U.S. citizens working outside the country, even if they are working for an American company.  So, a U.S. national loses FMLA protection once that individual steps off U.S. soil and works for one work week in another country. But is the converse true? For instance, are foreign nationals on H-1B work visas eligible for FMLA leave? I’ve answered that one here.

Q.  The word on the FMLA circuit is that you’re planning to celebrate your move to Littler with a little derriere augmentation? Is this true? And if so, would it be covered by FMLA?

A. Oh, you guys! I mean, I definitely could use a little derriere augmentation, but it just ain’t my style. In any event, we know from a previous post that time off for cosmetic surgery is not covered unless it involves an overnight stay or complications develop. [If nothing else, click on the link above for one of my all-time favorite FMLA Insights blog photos!]

Q.  Jeff, congrats on the move. But the only thing I really care about is whether your FMLA Insights blog will continue now that you’re at Littler. Yes or no, and don’t give me an attorney answer like, “Well, it depends . . .”?

A. This is the single most common question I’ve faced since my move to Littler. It warms the cockles of my heart to know how much you care [only about my blog].

I am pleased to report that, after a brief hiatus to modernize the look, my FMLA Insights blog will continue and all its archives are available to you. The blog will not be affiliated with Littler, but I will remain the sole author. If you’ve not yet subscribed to my blog, please do so on the right side of this page.

Fair warning: In the time ahead, I will incorporate even more ADA principles in my posts to expand our collective horizons a bit.  Never fear — FMLA is my first love, and I ain’t about to start cheating on her now.

Q.  At your annual FMLA webinar, you typically sing FMLA songs. Now that you’ve moved to a worldwide law firm, does this mean no more singing? For the record, I am hoping so, as the Capella bit is slightly off-putting, don’t you think?

A. Does a bear poop in the woods? You better believe I am singing! And because I am now at Littler, it’s going to be better than ever.

Btw, I am taking song requests now.

 

All kidding aside, I am so grateful for all of the words of support I’ve received from clients and my loyal FMLA Insights subscribers as I’ve transitioned to Littler over the past few weeks.  You can now reach me at:

E-mail: jnowak@littler.com

Phone: (312) 795-3295

I am elated to show my clients the technicolor world that is Littler. Let’s get down to business!