FMLA Insights

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If I gave you a million tries, you’d never guess that the next Department of Labor FMLA opinion letter would answer the question [wait for it . . .]: Is an employee’s attendance at a child’s IEP meeting covered by the FMLA? The Answer? Yes. Most definitely, yes. In an opinion letter issued yesterday, the DOL concluded that the FMLA covers an employee’s attendance at a school meeting where their child’s individualized education program (IEP) will be discussed. The Facts Interestingly, the request for an opinion letter came from a set of parents whose two children have serious health conditions.  The…
It’s a Friday in the middle of summer. So, approximately half of your workforce called off today due to an FMLA-related absence. [Well, not really, but I’m not that far off, amirite?] Take heart. At least you’re not the City of Chicago. As reported this week by the City’s Inspector General, three employees in the City’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications all took FMLA leave at the same time for various co-called ailments. Instead of laying up on the couch and recuperating, however, the employees took the first plane they could out of Chicago and headed down to…
Remember when I told you a few months ago that employers can and should consider requiring that employees make two calls to request FMLA leave? For instance, you might require one call to the supervisor to report the absence, and a second call to Human Resources (or your third party administrator) to request FMLA leave. All good, right? Weeeeeeell, let me share a cautionary tale for those who have implemented or are contemplating this two-call requirement, cause one little ‘ol federal court just threw us a curve ball. The Facts LaShondra was employed at a local Burger King restaurant,…
It’s been just over 10 years since the Department of Labor last introduced wholesale changes to the FMLA regulations. Remember those happy days back in 2009, when we were introduced to new FMLA notice requirements (for all), clarity over employee eligibility and holidays, emphasis on call-in procedures, favorable bonus language and waivers of FMLA rights?  Oh, and those cute, new FMLA notices and medical certification forms?  Oh goodness, those were fun days! After a decade in which we witnessed both the introduction and end of Administrator’s Interpretations, a return to opinion letters and a spike in on-site visits from our…
Andy, the Director of Human Resources at one of my clients, called me last week. He was pretty distraught. One of his employees, we’ll call him Tom, has been battling lung cancer, and he recently learned that the cancer has advanced to stage four.  It’s clear that his days are numbered. Tom has been a diligent, hard-working employee for several years as part of the employer’s facilities team, and in this role, he is responsible for setting up and breaking down events held by the employer.  Based on Andy’s observations, Tom can no longer perform the essential functions of his…
Every one of you employs at least one of these employees — you know, the one who: requests medical leave because of, let’s say, his uromysitisis poisoning (clearly, an FMLA-qualifying condition); but wants to use his accrued paid leave instead of tapping into FMLA? He might even get indignant, insisting that the law allows him to choose either FMLA leave or ordinary sick leave to cover an absence clearly covered by the FMLA. How do you respond to this employee? I have viewed the answer as a rather simple one: when an absence qualifies as FMLA leave, the employer should…
I can’t imagine anything more exciting than having joined Littler earlier this year.  [Click here to read about that virtual love fest.] But I have found a close second: the arrival of the American Bar Association’s summary of every FMLA case decided in 2018! Yep, you read that correctly.  Every little scrumptious FMLA decision.  About mid-February or so, the ABA’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee publishes a comprehensive report of FMLA decisions handed down by the federal courts in the previous year.  [Those little ABA rascals kept it from me this year till March, but I finally found it…
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…
Thanks to those who attended my webinar last week with Matt Morris on “Six Ways Your Managers Are Causing FMLA & ADA Leave Lawsuits, and How to Train Them to Stop.” A link to the recording can be accessed here (just requires providing some basic info about you) and the presentation PowerPoint can be downloaded here. To those who attended, thank you.  To those who missed it, you still have time to access the recording.  As promised, Matt and I provided a road map of all the necessary issues to address in an FMLA training session, including case…
It’s the end of the year, which means bonus time. Or perhaps instead you want to offer a pay incentive to employees to improve attendance or production?  Take, for instance, a point-based attendance bonus policy in which employees are assessed points for every tardiness or absence (even for FMLA or ADA-covered leave), which, in turn, disqualifies an employee from receiving the incentive. In these situations, can an employer disqualify an employee from the bonus or incentive? In short, Yes. The FMLA regulations provide in relevant part: . . . if a bonus or other payment is based on the achievement of a…
When: Wednesday, December 12 (12:00 – 1:15 p.m. central time) Online registration: Click Here Over the past year alone, employers have been forced to defend FMLA and ADA lawsuits due simply to an inappropriate comment from a manager after an employee requests time off or an accommodation in the workplace. A snide comment about an employee in an email . . . Discussing an employee’s medical condition with others in a meeting . . . Telling an employee that the Company “can’t afford” for him to take time off.  Despite an employer’s best policies (and intentions), all it takes is a…
Not sure where you stand on this, but I’m always game for a good employer smack down on FMLA abuse. This smack down comes courtesy of the City of Chicago. You know, the City of Big Shoulders, the Second City (to no one), the Windy City [little known fact: the nickname “Windy City” comes not from the cold winds that blow off Lake Michigan but from the City’s “windy” politicians. No joke.]. I digress. Picture a 911 call center deep in the City of Chicago. Pretty busy, yes? And like many other call centers, this 911 call center has plenty…
Q: We have an employee who recently had a child placed with her for foster care. (It is her niece.) She wants to take eight weeks of FMLA leave to bond with the foster child, but wants to know if she can take an additional eight weeks of FMLA leave when she adopts the child. She anticipates that the adoption likely will occur sometime next year. A. My head is spinning, as there are a couple of potential issues here.  First, is this an actual foster “placement,” since it’s an aunt and niece relationship?  Second, when can an employee take…
I conducted FMLA training this week for a client making fairly significant changes to the manner it administers FMLA leave. They not only are educating managers about their role and responsibilities under the FMLA, but empowering them to play a key role in reducing FMLA abuse. My client also is making one key change (among others) as part of their FMLA intake process: it’s requiring employees to make two calls whenever they want to request FMLA leave — one call to their direct supervisor prior to their shift, and an additional call to their leave management department to report the…
File this in the “Managers really can be idiots” folder. Kameisha applied for a job at Jersey Mike’s Subs (which by the way, makes an incredible #13 Original Italian sub). At the time she interviewed for a position, Kameisha was four months pregnant. Fearing she would not get the job if she revealed her pregnancy, Kameisha chose not to inform the manager, Marcos, of her exciting personal news during the interview. As the story goes, she got the job, and after putting in a few days’ work, Kameisha informed Marcos that she was pregnant.  She also made clear that she needed…
Those sneaky little rascals! While the rest of us were enjoying our Labor Day holiday, those crazy kids over at the Department of Labor were still working away. Bless their little hearts! This time, they were busy posting new model FMLA notices and medical certification forms. Expiration: August 31, 2021. No more month-to-month extensions or lost sleep over when the long-awaited forms would be released. Now, we can rest easy through summer 2021. Relief. That said, it couldn’t have taken DOL a whole lot of time to draft the updated forms. There’s nothing new, other than the new expiration date. Nevertheless, use…