Telling An Employee They Are Eligible For FMLA Leave May Mean They Are Eligible… Even If They Aren’t

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of unpaid leaves to employees who meet a set of eligibility standards.  These standards can be somewhat complex and, even though the FMLA has been around for over 20 years, employers still get make mistakes when determining eligibility.  The question then arises, what if your employer tells you that you are covered but then fires you when they later determine you are not actually eligible?  This exactly the scenario that arose in a recent federal appeals court decision.  See Tilley v. Kalamazoo County Road Commission, 777 F.3d 303 (6th Cir. 2015) (hat tip to the Employer Law Report for bringing this case to my attention).  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Family Medical Leave Act, Rights, Uncategorized

Sexual Orientation May Already Be Covered by Discrimination Statutes… Maybe

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal based on existing anti-discrimination statutes, and no new legislation is needed to ban sexual orientation discrimination.  This could add one more protection for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people (due to a quirk in the law, transgender people were already mostly protected from discrimination) especially with the major victory in the recent Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision Obergefell v. Hodges.  Unfortunately, there is reason to believe that these protections may not actually last for long.  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Discrimination, Rights

True or False: I cannot be disciplined any time I visit a healthcare provider?

Today’s post is all about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and trying to decide when a person qualifies for coverage.  As you may know from some of my previous coverage, the FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with your own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a family member (there are also some other issues covered).  If an individual takes FMLA protected leave they cannot be disciplined or terminated for that time off.  Therefore, it is crucial to understand when leave is covered.  Unfortunately, a recent case from Arkansas shows that if someone takes leave that is not covered, they can lose their job.  See Johnson v. Wheeling Mach. Prods., 779 F.3d 514 (8th Cir. Ark. 2015).  Hit the jump for all the details and the answer to the True/False question… Continue reading

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Filed under Family Medical Leave Act

Same-Sex Marriage and the FMLA in Missouri

Missouri is one of the most recent states to face challenges brought against its prohibition on same-sex marriages.  While so far these decisions have come down in favor of same-sex marriage, the multiple suits, appeals, and decisions have created confusion about when and where a same-sex marriage may be recognized in Missouri.  There likely won’t be a complete answer until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the matter (which may happen before summer gets here).  Nonetheless federal agencies are taking the opportunity to expand right previously only provided to opposite-sex partnerships and the Department of Labor has done just that with the Family Medical Leave Act.  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Family Medical Leave Act, Legislation, Missouri

Discriminatory Behavior: Do PIPs and “Coaching Plans” Count?

Anyone familiar with educator employment has likely heard the terms PIP, PDP, or FIP before.  PIPs, short for Professional Improvement Plans, are generally the first attempt of an employer to change the behavior of an employee.  Understandably, many people find being placed on PIPs surprising and very stressful, this is particularly true when an individual has been with an employer for decades only to find themselves suddenly placed under a microscope.  Placement on a PIP can make an individual to feel targeted and harassed, which leads to the obvious question, can a PIP by itself be discriminatory?  A recent decision from a federal appellate court addresses just this issue.  See Perret v. Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co., 770 F.3d 336 (5th Cir. 2014) (hat tip to the Laconic Law Blog for pointing this case out).  Hit the jump for the analysis… Continue reading

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Novel FMLA Issue: Can I Take Leave if my Girlfriend Has Pregnancy Complications?

Recently, various outlets have been discussing the plight of Indianapolis Colts’ running back, Trent Richardson (hang in there, we will be getting into the legal question in one second).  Namely are the Colts going to try to void the contract of Richardson in order to save money?  What caught my eye about the situation is that it was allegedly precipitated because Richardson missed a “walkthrough” (if any football minded readers could enlighten me as to what this is I would appreciate it) due to “serious complications with his girlfriend’s pregnancy that could potentially have endangered the life of [his] child.”  Shortly after this, Richardson was suspended for two games which got me thinking whether he might not have an argument for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) retaliation.  Hit the jump for my thoughts… Continue reading

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Filed under Family Medical Leave Act

Georgia Court Rules Parents Can Be Liable For Libelous Facebook Posts Of Their Child

If you have read my blog for any time at all (thank you!) then you know one my major concerns is how the use of social media effects teachers, public employees, and even employers.  While it shouldn’t come as any surprise that an individual’s off-the-clock social media use can effect their employment, a recent appellate decision from Georgia ruled on a novel question: can parents be liable when their child makes a fake Facebook profile of another child and then posts defamatory and libelous comments there.  See Boston v. Athearn, A14A0971 (Ga. App. Oct. 10, 2014) (thanks to Legal Clips for pointing out this case).  While the ultimate ruling was that the parents could be held liable, the specific facts are important.  Hit the jump for more… Continue reading

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Filed under Social Media

Legal Black Hole: Overpaid Employees

It seems at least once every year I have to help advise an individual who has been mistakenly overpaid.  In most circumstance, the individual comes to me because they have been notified that their employer is going to unilaterally begin garnishing their paycheck to make up for the overpayment.  For some individuals, the amount removed from the check is small enough not to have much impact but for many public school employees the loss (which sometimes represents years of overpayment by the employer) can place the individual into a very precarious financial position.  This is particularly true in Missouri which has the 9th lowest average teacher salary in the nation. Continue reading

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Costco Sex Harassment Lawsuit May Have Lessons for Missouri Teachers

Almost exclusively, claims of sexual harassment are brought against coworkers or supervisors.  So what is an individual to do when the harasser falls outside of one of these two groups?  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently brought suit against Costco in just such a situation and the case may also provide guidance for teachers as well.  Hit the jump for all the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Discrimination, Uncategorized

Medical Information Addendum: The EEOC Weighs In

Just last week I posted an article discussing what sort of information an individual needs to give to their employer when they are suffering from a medical issue.  In that article, I noted that many employers request very broad releases, sometimes requesting access to any and all medical information on the employee.  Well this week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against a Minnesota company for this exact issue!  (hat tip to the Employer Handbook for pointing out the press release)  Hit the jump for the details… Continue reading

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Filed under Americans with Disabilities Act, Discrimination