Category Archives: FMLA

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Pregnancy-related statements by managers help employee to avoid summary judgment on pregnancy discrimination claim.

In an unpublished opinion, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a pregnancy discrimination claim, finding that an employer’s “no accommodation for non-work-related injuries” raised an issue of pregnancy discrimination for a jury. Latowski v. Northwoods Nursing Center, 6th Cir., No. 12-2408, December 23, 2013. Jennifer … Continue Reading

Termination of employee for entering alcohol rehab after a last chance agreement not necessarily a violation of the ADA.

One of the questions asked most often by employers relates to whether the enforcement of a “last chance agreement” with an employee who is recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is a per se violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The 3d U.S. Circuit Court … Continue Reading

Employee’s failure to return from FMLA leave in a timely manner supports summary judgment for employer under the ADA.

In an unpublished opinion issued on October 8, 2013, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment in favor of an employer on a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The interesting – and somewhat unexpected – basis of the decision was the fact that the plaintiff/employee’s termination was based upon … Continue Reading

Positive performance reviews do not negate employer’s ability to fire employee upon discovery of previously unknown poor performance.

According to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, evidence of previously unknown poor performance is sufficient basis for an employee’s, even if that evidence is discovered during that employee’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.Mercer v. The Arc of Prince Georges County, Inc., 4th Cir., No. 13-1300, unpubl., July 11, 2013. Adesina Mercer held … Continue Reading

Facebook postings showing misuse of FMLA leave can form sufficient legal basis for termination.

Based on the number of “Facebook” decisions from the National Labor Relations Board over the past two years, most employers understand that when employee Facebook postings constitute “protected activity” under the National Labor Relations Act, the postings can be legally protected. However, the NLRA is not the only federal law that can be implicated in … Continue Reading

Employer has no obligation to provide “light duty” assignment under FMLA or ADA.

The use of light duty assignments to employees who are returning to work after recuperation from an illness or injury is an often used mechanism. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that neither the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) nor the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) creates an obligation for an … Continue Reading

Assignment to a lesser position upon return from leave may support FMLA interference claim.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of an employer, holding that a plaintiff’s testimony and evidence related to her transfer to a position of less responsibility upon return from Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave created an issue of material fact that required a jury to determine whether the … Continue Reading

Temporal proximity between FMLA leave and firing does not always lead to successful legal claim.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) continues to create administrative challenges for employers. One particular issue of concern is the discipline and or termination of an employee who has requested or is on FMLA leave. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the dismissal of an individual’s interference and retaliation claims in … Continue Reading

DOL publishes its “plain language” explanation and guidebook for the FMLA.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to twelve weeks of unpaid leave each year for certain medical issues for themselves or immediate family members. Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who exercises FMLA rights. Employers and employees alike often are stymied by the administrative complexity of the … Continue Reading

Taking FMLA leave does not affect employee’s obligations under non-FMLA attendance policies.

Employment termination during an employee’s leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may constitute “interference” with that leave. However, an employer typically does not violate the FMLA if it terminates an employee for failing to comply with the company’s policies regarding absences, even if those absences occur during a protected FMLA leave. A … Continue Reading

Alleged comments by HR director sufficient to defeat company’s motion for summary judgment.

Remarks by a law firm’s human resources director could be “direct evidence” of pregnancy discrimination and violation of the FMLA, according to the 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals. According to the court, such evidence falls outside of the “hearsay” objection that might otherwise keep it from being presented to a jury. Makowski v. SmithAmundsen … Continue Reading

To invoke FMLA protection for care of another, some geographic proximity is required by the employee.

In an unpublished opinion, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an individual who requests FMLA leave to care for a seriously ill family member must have some role in providing the “care” required by the relative’s illness. According to the Fifth Circuit, a father who left his seriously injured daughter in … Continue Reading

Insufficient medical information justifies refusal of FMLA leave.

The federal regulations that support the Family and Medical Leave Act require that an employee submit to his or her employer certain medical facts within the knowledge of the employee’s health care provider, including information related to the incapacitation, examination, or treatment that may be required by a health care provider. The 9th U.S. Circuit … Continue Reading

Employee’s failure to respond to phone calls from employer regarding his request for FMLA leave precludes a claim against employer under that Act.

Most employers recognize that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) prohibits them from denying, restraining, or interfering with an employee’s rights to qualified leave. Last week’s Update addressed a situation in which an employer’s frequent phone calls to the employee asking when she would return to work while she was on FMLA leave may … Continue Reading

Employer’s frequent calls to employee during FMLA may create interference with that leave.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employer is prohibited from denying, restraining, or interfering with an employee’s rights to qualified leave. One federal court recently found that an employer’s frequent phone calls to the employee asking when she would return to work while she was on FMLA leave may have interfered with … Continue Reading

Employer can require compliance with call-in policy, even during FMLA leave.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an employee who was fired for repeatedly violating her employer’s call-in policy cannot proceed with her lawsuit under the FMLA. Thompson v. CenturyTel of Central Arkansas,LLC, 8th Cir, No. 09-3602, December 3, 2010. Loretta Thompson began working for CenturyTel, a telecommunications company, in 2003. In … Continue Reading
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