Ignorance of FMLA regulations can cost you in time, court fees, and employees. Here are examples of employers who learned that the hard way.
Management violated FMLA regulations
They failed to put up FMLA posters
Invacare Corp. (Elyria, OH) paid an employee a $171,000 award after neglecting to inform him of his FMLA leave rights.
The employee lodged his complaint after being fired for absenteeism, contending that some of his absences were covered by the FMLA. His supervisor insisted that the employee had never given notice that he was taking FMLA leave.
But the employee’s lawyer pointed out that the supervisor had never put up the standard poster informing employees of how to apply for family medical leave that FMLA regulations require.
FMLA regulations never explained
A local government manager can pursue his FMLA case on grounds that the employer didn’t give him adequate information about his rights.
The manager, who suffered from depression and bipolar disorder, was fired after using up his FMLA leave. He sued, claiming the employer didn’t tell him he could substitute paid leave for FMLA leave, and take the FMLA leave after his paid leave was used up. Nor did the employer inform him of his right to intermittent leave, he said.
A court refused to dismiss the suit, saying that in the absence of a uniform policy, the employer should have told the employee what his rights were.
Take home: Make sure you have a uniform policy, written and distributed to all employees.
Cite: Weisman v. Buckingham Township.
FMLA silence was golden, for employee
An employee practically begged his employer to tell him what FMLA certification it needed from him. But the employer never replied.
The employee missed work to care for his sick wife, who worked for the same employer. When they returned to work with identical FMLA documentation, hers was accepted but his was not.
So when the employee was fired for missing work and sued, he won a $1 million jury verdict.
The court said that the employer violated FMLA regulations, for an employer must tell an employee what FMLA certification it requires before imposing discipline for failing to provide adequate certification.
Cite: Lubke v. Arlington.
Supervisor ignores FMLA regulations, company pays
Avon Products, Inc., (New York, NY) will have to pay penalties of an as-yet-undetermined amount to a depressed employee caught sleeping on the job.
The employee told his supervisor that he was suffering from mental problems and planned to request an FMLA leave.
When he didn’t show up for work the next day, he was fired.
He returned to work with a doctor’s note requesting an FMLA leave so he could be treated for depression.
His supervisor said the request was too late since he had already been terminated.
The judge ruled that the employee had been too ill to put together a request for FMLA leave.
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