Articles Posted in FMLA

In today’s world of smart devices, 5G wireless, and other technological advances, employers and employees are communicating in more ways than ever. Gone are the days when all employer-employee communications take place via face-to-face, writing, or telephone line. This modern reality also may have an impact on your Family and Medical Leave Act case, especially if your employer tries to oppose your submission of notice based on the media you used, not the content of the communication. As with all FMLA cases, the issues in your case may be intricate and complex, so you should not hesitate in retaining an experienced Atlanta FMLA lawyer.

In terms of modern media platforms and FMLA notice, the most recent case comes to us from West Virginia.

The employee, K.R., was an assembly line worker for an auto parts manufacturer. In June 2019, K.R. required an emergency appendectomy. K.R. sent his supervisor a communication explaining his situation via Facebook Messenger, which he and his supervisor earlier had used to discuss a previous illness that forced K.R. to miss work.

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Employers may engage in a variety of improper actions when it comes to your requesting, using, or returning from leave to which you are entitled under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This misconduct can range from erecting onerous and unnecessary documentation requirements to counting your FMLA leave against for purposes of punitive “occurrence-based” attendance policies, just to name two. If you’ve encountered an employer making things needlessly difficult or otherwise punishing you for seeking or using FMLA leave, that potentially counts as interference, which is against the law. An experienced FMLA interference lawyer can help you assess how best to proceed based on the facts of your situation.

That issue of FMLA interference came up once again in a recent case from the federal courts. The employee, J.P., worked at a paper mill that had an occurrence-based attendance policy.

From December 2017 to August 2018, J.P. took three periods of FMLA leave. That last period ended on August 5. On August 6, J.P. returned to work. The next day, however, an operations manager told him to leave and to return with a “medical release” from his physician. J.P. did as instructed and, as a result, the employer counted his leaving work early on August 7 as a separate and additional occurrence.

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When it comes to things like minimum wage, overtime, and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, there are multiple different ways that your employer can violate the law. First, there’s the violation itself, in which your employer denies you what the statute demands. Additionally, though, many cases involve retaliation, where an employer punishes an employee for asserting (or, in some instances, merely inquiring about) their statutory rights. An experienced Atlanta employment lawyer can help you determine if retaliation occurred in your case and how to pursue relief for that retaliation.

Last month, the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued a new guidance document focusing on the issue of retaliation. Specifically, the bulletin placed a spotlight on instances of retaliation against workers who assert their rights under the FMLA, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and other labor laws.

As the bulletin noted, legal protections against retaliation are necessary to safeguard workers’ rights. A worker forced to choose between being illegally underpaid or having no job at all reasonably might choose the former over the latter. As a result, “it continues to be of paramount importance that WHD fully enforce the anti-retaliation provisions of the laws.”

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Employers today continue to innovate in many areas related to the operation of their workplaces. When they do so, modifications in the way workplaces function may impact many areas. Sometimes, they may even violate certain employment laws, like the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or the Family Medical Leave Act. If that has happened to you, don’t suffer in silence. Instead, retain an experienced Atlanta employment retaliation lawyer and take action.

One of those relatively recent innovations is the “no-fault” attendance policy. These policies are used by some of America’s biggest employers, in industries ranging from food processing to hospitality to manufacturing to retail. Under a “no-fault” system, you, as an employee, incur a “point” (sometimes called an “occurrence”) each time you have an unplanned absence, late arrival, or early departure, regardless of the reason.

On the surface, it might sound good, as it potentially removes the need to jump through various paperwork-acquisition tasks and other hoops to justify or excuse your absence. However, these policies have downsides. For one thing, some can automatically trigger severe consequences after an employee exceeds a certain number of occurrences. These consequences may include a suspension without pay or termination, even if all of the employee’s absences were legitimate and medically based.

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Is it possible for your employer to take certain proper actions in the aftermath of your workplace injury and still do (or fail to do) other things that constitute violations of the law? Yes, it is. Just because your employer complies with one law does not absolve it of its responsibility to comply with other laws and, if you are harmed because your employer failed to satisfy any of its legal obligations, you may be entitled to recover compensation in a legal action. To learn more about your options, get in touch with a knowledgeable Atlanta employment lawyer.

Two such laws that may overlap in the case of a workplace injury are workers’ compensation law and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Take, for example, the FMLA interference case of N.R., a housekeeper at a hospital in Gwinnett County.

In September 2016, the housekeeper suffered a significant knee injury at work. The employer promptly took action, but that action was to process the housekeeper’s injury as a workers’ compensation claim. The employer did not provide N.R. with any information about her FMLA rights.

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Federal law protects employees against racial discrimination and actions taken in retaliation for an employee’s assertion of his or her rights under certain federal laws designed for the protection of workers. However, an Atlanta employment discrimination claim will not be viable in every alleged instance of discrimination or retaliation.

In order to prove his or her case, the plaintiff must have enough evidence to survive the inevitable motion to dismiss by the employer, and this is not always an easy task. Consulting an experienced employment law attorney who can help the plaintiff build his or her case is essential.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was an African American woman who was hired to work as a property manager for the defendant employer in 2012. She was promoted to area manager in 2014 but demoted back to property manager in 2015. After being terminated later that year, the plaintiff filed suit in federal district court alleging that she was terminated because of her race in violation of  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981; that the defendant had interfered with her rights under the family Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and that the defendant had retaliated against her for asserting her rights under FMLA.

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Discrimination based on race, gender, and age is still alarmingly common. If you believe you have been a victim of such unlawful conduct, you should talk to an Atlanta employment discrimination attorney about the possibility of filing a claim against your employer.

However, you should be aware of the requirements of such a claim, namely, that the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to proof his or her case. This is not always easy, as most employers deny that any discrimination actually occurred.

Instead, the employer will likely point the finger at the plaintiff, blaming him or her for creating a situation that led to the dismissal, demotion, or failure to promote about which the employee complains.

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An Atlanta employment lawsuit can arise from an employer’s alleged violation of several different state and federal laws, including both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act.

However, it should be pointed out that the plaintiff has the burden of proving each and every element of his or her case, which can sometimes be a difficult task.

Of course, each case is decided upon its own merits, so the fact that the plaintiff in a particular case was unsuccessful in his or her quest for legal redress should not discourage a would-be litigant from asserting his or her own legal rights in a separate suit.

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When an employee launches a legal action against his employer that asserts that the employer engaged in illegal discriminatory or retaliatory conduct in the termination of the employee, each side will have important evidentiary showings they’ll need to make. The employer needs to prove that it had a legitimate reason for taking action. The employee must show that the employer’s stated reason was a ruse to hide an illegal motive. Whether you’re an employer or an employee in a discrimination or retaliation case, it helps to have knowledgeable Georgia discrimination attorneys working on your side. Continue reading ›

For employers, complicated issues can arise from deciding to terminate an employee who is out on leave. Depending on the circumstances, executing this termination may leave the employer open to a Family and Medical Leave Act lawsuit. In the case of one city worker in Michigan, the employer went ahead with firing the employer while she was out on leave due to surgery, but the employee’s FMLA lawsuit still fell short. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling, which covers Tennessee as well as Michigan, makes it clear that an FMLA plaintiff must not only connect the termination and the FMLA leave in terms of timing but also provide a clear causation linkage. Whether you are in the role of employer or employee, these types of circumstances are clear examples of the need to retain skilled Tennessee FMLA counsel to ensure that your interests are protected. Continue reading ›

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