Articles Posted in FMLA

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leave requestEmployers often concern themselves with making sure that employees are not misusing resources or benefits available to them. While an employer has certain latitude in terms of, say, using tracking software to monitor employees’ use of company-provided internet, things can be different when it comes to statutorily guaranteed rights like leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In one recent case, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with an employee after her employer demanded extra documentation related to her FMLA absences, even though it had no proof that she was abusing the FMLA leave process.

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nurseA nurse was able to revive his Family and Medical Leave Act claim against his former employer after the employer failed to reinstate him from leave immediately after he informed the employer of his availability. Since reasonable jurors could disagree regarding whether the employer handled the reinstatement in a way that complied with the law, the nurse’s case was not one properly decided by issuing summary judgment, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided.

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It is often a tricky situation for an employer. You’ve approved an employee’s taking a certain amount of time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, only to discover soon thereafter that your employee wasn’t completely honest with you about his leave. When an employer encounters this issue, it is important to understand what the laws says are your options. In a recent case from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, that court concluded that an employer couldn’t be liable for FMLA retaliation when it forced into retirement an employee whom it deemed to have misused his FMLA leave. The employer won because it had ample proof that the employee had been dishonest, and dishonesty and abuse of FMLA leave were permissible non-discriminatory reasons for the employer’s actions.vacation

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sick womanA recent case pitting a Tennessee bank teller against her former employer resulted in a judgment in favor of the bank and a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the lower court’s ruling. The bank teller’s lupus required her to miss long stretches of work, and these prolonged absences allowed the bank to terminate her employment without violating either the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act, since the job that the woman had at the bank required regular attendance.

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hearingAn important new ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals highlights when employees can, and cannot, offer arguments in federal employment cases even after administrative bodies have already ruled against that same argument. In this recent case, the court allowed an employee to pursue a Family and Medical Leave Act retaliation case because, even though a state unemployment compensation appeals hearing officer had previously ruled that the employer fired the employee based upon dishonesty, rather than her use of FMLA leave, the hearing officer didn’t rely on competent evidence in making that conclusion. While this case originated in Alabama, the 11th Circuit’s ruling in the matter can affect employers and employees in Georgia.

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shipping department workerIn any employment case in which an alleged statutory violation has taken place, it is always important to know exactly what the law requires an employee to show in order to make her case. Tennessee employers and employees should take note of a recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the employer. In this case, the employee lost because she did not have the required proof of damages to support her Family and Medical Leave Act case.

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computer engineerA recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case addressed the unusual question of whether an employer can go from exempt to non-exempt based upon the employer’s decision to withhold pay as part of an employment dispute. In the 11th Circuit ruling, it decided that, in this case, the employee remained exempt and could not pursue his employer for minimum wage law violations. The employee’s case was a matter for the state courts under a breach of contract cause of action, rather than a matter for a federal court under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Dollar_General_storeA recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case is helpful in instructing how far an employer must go in stating why it chose to terminate an employee on Family and Medical Leave Act leave. Even though the employer in the recent case only narrowed its reasons down to two mutually exclusive ones, its good-faith investigation established a reasonable basis for concluding that the employee committed one of the two misdeeds, and, since either was enough to warrant termination, the employer’s action did not violate the law.

The events that happened to Kimberly Thomas that triggered this case were, in some ways, not uncommon. Thomas, a manager at a Dollar General store in Alabama, was terminated in the wake of a robbery at her store. The robbery had yielded an investigation by Thomas’ superiors and questions regarding two store employees’ completion of a mandatory online class regarding robbery prevention. The employer concluded that Thomas either took the course exam for the employees or made the employees take the test “off the clock.” Either way, the employer reasoned that Thomas had violated company policy and ended her employment.

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NurseAn Alabama employee recently lost her Family Medical Leave Act case because the period for which she sought leave was after the last day of her temporary employment. The case, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in it, provides some helpful guidance to Georgia employers and employees when it comes to temporary employees and the FMLA. In ruling in favor of the employer, the court explained that employers can terminate temporary employees, thereby preventing them from taking FMLA leave, as long as the termination would have occurred just the same even in the absence of the employee’s leave request.

The employee in this case, Janet Scotnicki, was a nurse in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. Scotnicki had a condition called Autoimmune Cerebellar Ataxia. Symptoms of her condition include problems with balance and walking. In 2007, the nurse took a month of FMLA leave to seek medical treatment. When she and her supervisor discussed her return to work, her supervisor proposed two possible opportunities that were more sedentary than her CCU job. Scotnicki chose a job with the Interventional Cardiology office, even though the supervisor clearly indicated that this job was only temporary.

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employee-handbookA county road commission worker was able to deflect his employer’s attempt to defeat his Family and Medical Leave Act case by arguing that the employee was ineligible. Although the employee was, in fact, ineligible, the employer’s poorly worded employee manual appeared to promise FMLA coverage to the employee. That was enough for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide the employee was allowed to go forward to trial with the argument that the employer should be legally barred from arguing about eligibility as a result of the misrepresentation and the employee’s reliance upon it.

The worker who sued was Terry Tilley, an employee of the Kalamazoo County Road Commission. In late July 2011, Tilley’s supervisor reprimanded him for failing to complete certain assignments on time. The supervisor imposed a new set of deadlines by which Tilley must have his work finished or else face additional punishment, including job termination. On the morning of the last day for completing one of the assignments, Tilley suffered a medical event that led to his admission to a hospital, from which he was not released until the next day.

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