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
Category Archives: Family Medical Leave Act
Telling An Employee They Are Eligible For FMLA Leave May Mean They Are Eligible… Even If They Aren’t
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
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
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
When medical issues affect your work life it is natural to want to keep your health information as private as possible. Often, employers will request that the individual sign an incredibly broad release that would grant them access to basically all of an individual’s health information which is far beyond what the law requires. However, when deciding what information to share with your employer, bear in mind that there are some minimum standards of disclosure that must be met in order to claim protection under federal law. This post will examine two cases, one under the Family Medical Leave Act and one under the Americans with Disabilities Act, where an individual shared information but the courts decided it wasn’t enough. Fortunately, in most situations there is a balance that can be achieved between protecting your information and protecting your job. Continue reading
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one of the most important protections for workers dealing with their own medical issues or the health issues of a family member. It provides time off for medical care or recuperation and guarantees that you cannot be disciplined or terminated for taking the leave (if you need to get acquainted with the basic protections of the FMLA, here is a video presentation I made with all the info). Unfortunately, while the FMLA does protect you from termination for taking medical leave, there still may be other grounds that an individual can be terminated even while on leave. Additionally, many employers now require some amount of call-in or work done while on leave, but the contours of what exactly can be required are fuzzy. Hit the link for a few cases that illustrate these aspects of the FMLA… Continue reading
Missouri NEA has developed two new resources that explain the legal rights of individuals related to pregnancy and lactation. For those who just want a basic FAQ, there is a basic explanation designed so that anyone should be able to understand what rights they have (soon to appear on the Legal Q&A page of mnea.org and available here).
For individuals who prefer a more interactive explanation, they can use this automated Prezi that includes a full voice-over presentation on pregnancy and lactation rights. The entire presentation only takes about 7 minutes and addresses not only rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act, but also the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and Family Medical Leave Act. Either way you choose, Missouri NEA makes it easy to learn about your legal rights!
Marketplace ran an interesting piece on one of the lesser-known sacrifices that many teachers make: scheduling their pregnancies around the school year – http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/many-teachers-schedule-summer-babies. Listen to the full story to hear the passionate teachers willing to rearrange their personal lives to fit their profession. While this sacrifice is noble, teachers should keep in mind that child birth and newborn-bonding time are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act. For more information check out my video on FMLA leave or some of my varied posts on FMLA leave.
When an employee takes Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, the employer is allowed to ask for “certification” of the need for leave. Essentially, certification is basic verification that the individual, or a covered spouse, child, or parent, is suffering from a “serious health condition.” While employer’s can request additional information, the amount of information is rather limited and the Department of Labor has created specific forms that healthcare providers can fill out that satisfy the FMLA notice requirements (Employee; Family Member). If certification is requested, the employee needs to take reasonable steps to get the additional information to the employer and a recent case from Massachusetts is an example what happens when those steps are not taken. See Brookins v. Staples Contract and Commercial, Inc., Civil Action No. 11-11067-RWZ (D. Ma. Feb. 12, 2013).
Even though the Family Medical Leave Act officially turned 20 years old last month there continue to be issues requiring clarification from the courts and the Department of Labor. Most recently, the DoL issued some administrative guidance on FMLA leave for adult children. The FMLA provides time off to care for children who are either under 18 years of age or who are older than 18 and are “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.” Unfortunately, this definition left a number of open questions, such as, is the FMLA definition of disability the same as the Americans with Disabilities Act definition? does it matter when the disability began? and what is the intersection of “serious health condition” under the FMLA and “disability” under the ADA?
Before moving on, I just want to take a moment, yet again, to advertise the FMLA video I put together. If you are not familiar with the basic requirements, check out that video and then come back for more information on this complicated topic.
For all the nitty-gritty of the DoL guidance, hit the jump… Continue reading