Ignorance and Inconsistency: The Two-Step Path to Court


Nobody ever said complying with federal employment laws would be easy or inexpensive. It also isn't optional. As this case shows, ignoring your legal obligations—or trying to find creative ways around them—can be even more costly. And allowing one person to make arbitrary decisions about who gets leave and who doesn't is never a good idea ...

Is employee in jail entitled to FMLA leave?

Q. We have an employee who is on final warning due to his poor attendance. The employee recently requested FMLA leave to care for his wife. While on FMLA leave, it was reported in the newspaper that the employee was arrested for drug possession. He was in jail for several days, including several workdays. The employee is now out of jail and wants to return to work. Can we treat the employee’s absences from work while in jail as occurrences under our attendance policy, or do we have to treat the time as FMLA leave, even though the employee could not have been caring for his wife the days in question since he was in jail?

Best way to beat FMLA retaliation suit: Catalog problems that justified firing


The at-will employment doctrine says employers can fire employees for any reason that doesn’t violate a state, local or federal law. However, employers should always view a termination as an act that might be challenged in court. So while you may not technically need a reason, it’s always better to back up your termination decision with solid evidence of performance or behavioral problems.

You can require early involuntary FMLA leave

Do you have an employee with a serious health condition you cannot accommodate? You can insist that she take FMLA leave. There is no legal requirement to go along with her suggestions for elaborate and expensive accommodations that might let her continue working.

Give employees a chance to fix FMLA forms


Before you approve or reject an employee’s FMLA request, the law allows you to request a medical certification from the employee. That certification must have some specific things.

FMLA: Where employers go wrong

Being terminated for taking job-protected leave was the No. 1 reason employees filed FMLA-related complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor last year. What were their others?

Having a casual FMLA and sick leave policy can lead to formal charges


It may be disruptive and expensive to provide an employee with up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave and continue to cover your share of an employee’s health insurance premiums. But ignoring your FMLA obligation—or trying to find creative ways around it—can be even more costly to your organization. Consider this recent Pennsylvania case in which the employee ended up losing her medical coverage during a health crisis. The employer has now been ordered to pay the employee’s medical bills directly.

Fully recovered employee isn't disabled


An employee who has fully recovered from a medical crisis isn’t likely to qualify as disabled under the ADA. Therefore, she would not be entitled to further accommodations. In addition, as this case shows, a few negative comments about her prior condition would not be considered to create a hostile environment.

Use it or lose it! You must enforce your call-off policy


Employers have the right to set reasonable call-off requirements for when an employee will miss a shift or arrive late. Employees can be required to follow those rules. If someone doesn’t, you can discipline him—even if you approved FMLA leave for the absence. But beware: If you don’t consistently enforce the call-off rule, you may be on the losing end of an FMLA lawsuit.

'My boss is stressing me out!' That's not a disability requiring accommodation

Some supervisors may be tougher than others and some employees may not get along with a particular supervisor. It may be a matter of workplace philosophy or even personality conflict. And the employee may genuinely be so stressed and anxious that she needs medical or psychological treatment. But that does not mean that she can demand transfer to a different supervisor as a reasonable accommodation, a California court has ruled.

Worker going on leave? React with poker face

It may be natural for supervisors to be upset when one of their key employees goes out on workers’ compensation or FMLA leave, but make sure managers know not to lash out.

Tell employee that she's nearing FMLA eligibility

Employees have to work at least 1,250 hours in the preceding year to be eligible for FMLA leave. If an employee requests leave to deal with a medical issue and is close to achieving that threshold, inform her. Maybe she can wait until she’s covered by the FMLA.

Discipline OK, even when worker could use FMLA


Some supervisors hesitate to discipline employees who have asked for FMLA leave or seem likely to need it soon. Reassure them that they can and should discipline those who break company rules or perform poorly, even if they are ill or may need FMLA leave. The key is to focus on behavior.

4 steps: Pre- and post-birth FMLA compliance

Many employers think expectant mothers can take FMLA leave only for childbirth and baby bonding. But any medical appointments and pregnancy-related illnesses are eligible for FMLA leave, too. Here’s how to handle FMLA time off for pregnancy and afterward.

What's a 'serious' condition? Routine care doesn't trigger FMLA protection

The FMLA is supposed to protect employees from losing their jobs when they can’t work due to a serious health condition.
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