Make sure medical leave requests funnel through HR

Don’t let supervisors handle employee requests for medical leave informally—make sure all requests come through HR. If bosses are allowed to make their own rules, inconsistencies will trip you up in court.

How do we calculate FMLA eligibility on rehire?

Q. We have an employee who was employed with our company from May, 2010 until April, 2011. The employee was rehired in 2015 and worked approximately nine months. Has the employee satisfied the requirement of 12 months of employment despite the three-year gap in employment under the FMLA?

Vindictive managers can spark FMLA liability

While it isn’t convenient for managers when an employee takes FMLA leave, that leave is an entitlement. Punishing the employee—in small or big ways—when she returns can backfire big time.

Orthodox synagogue sued for firing pregnant employee

Just before she went on her honeymoon, a program director at Manhattan’s Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the country, confided to a co-worker that she was 19 weeks pregnant. The synagogue fired here upon her return.

Check RIF list to make sure it doesn't show bias against employees who took FMLA leave

Add this to your list of factors to check before implementing a reduction in force: Make sure there’s no pattern of terminating those who happened to have taken FMLA leave.

Before making promises, check FMLA eligibility

Not everyone is eligible for FMLA leave, especially in companies with multiple locations that employ fewer than 50 workers within 75 miles of a work site. But sometimes companywide handbooks describe FMLA benefits without clarifying that some employees aren’t eligible because of where they work. Make sure employees in satellite offices understand they may not be eligible.

Was this employee eligible for FMLA leave?

Q. We’ve received a demand letter from an attorney alleging that we violated the FMLA by failing to reinstate an employee as required by the law. The letter refers to our handbook, which the employee received, which contains our FMLA policy. It states that when the employee applied for leave, he applied for “FMLA leave.” We have several hundred employees, but the site where this employee worked has only 30 employees, and it is not located within 75 miles of any of our other sites. Therefore, it is my understanding that this employee is not eligible for FMLA benefits and the employee should not have a FMLA claim to assert. Is that correct?

Be prepared to comply with Minnesota's requirement to explain involuntary termination


Minnesota employers have to walk through a minefield in order to terminate someone. Consider, for example, what might happen if the newly discharged employee asks for a written explanation of her termination. Offer one that’s less than honest, and you may be violating Minnesota’s Section 181.933.

Sometimes it's OK to fire after FMLA leave

Employees who take FMLA leave have no special protection from discipline for poor performance that’s not related to the fact that they took leave. That means you may refuse to reinstate an employee who took FMLA leave, as long as you would have done so anyway.

Let the pros in HR handle that! Bosses shouldn't meddle in FMLA, ADA issues


Some managers think they can handle employees with disabilities on their own. That’s never a good idea. Someone in HR should oversee every aspect of disability accommodations. Leave management out of it—other than requiring every manager and supervisor to report immediately potential disabilities to HR. Otherwise, things can go badly wrong, as they did in one recent case.

Don't let FMLA stop planned staffing changes

Normally, it’s risky to fire someone who has just taken FMLA leave. However, you can terminate such an employee—if you can show that changes were underway before FMLA leave began.

Does your parental leave policy discriminate?

In several recent lawsuits, courts have ruled that parental leave policies thought to generously provide time off for new mothers were actually discriminatory—against new fathers.

The 5 reasons employees can take FMLA leave

Except in the case of leave to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness, U.S. Department of Labor regulations say an eligible employee’s FMLA leave entitlement is limited to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period for any one, or more, of the following reasons.

Substandard work before FMLA leave? Beware retaliation suit for later poor reviews


Don’t think that just because an employee was a poor performer before she requested FMLA leave, a poor review after the request can’t be retaliation. If there is other evidence of retaliation (like a direct statement that FMLA leave was a factor), then the previous poor performance won’t be much of a defense.

Negative comments about FMLA use? Call your lawyer because you will be sued

Now is a good time to remind supervisors that making negative comments about FMLA usage can end in litigation. That’s because telling employees that taking time off makes it hard for co-workers who have to pick up the slack can chill further use of FMLA leave, discouraging employees from using time off they are legally entitled to.
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