Managing FMLA in-house is complicated and full of risk. Overwhelming paperwork and navigating legal requirements can quickly become a headache for any Human Resources department. BASIC illustrates three common FMLA mistakes made by employers and corresponding lawsuits that have followed.
1) Insufficient Communication
Employers have a responsibility to provide employees on FMLA leave with clear explanations of leave duration and to issue notices when an employee’s remaining FMLA leave time is about to expire. Communicating with employees on FMLA leave can help employers avoid FMLA retaliation claims and save them thousands in legal fees. For example, in the case of Mejia v. Roma Cleaning, the former employee’s lawsuit alleging FMLA violations was thrown out after the cleaning company showed they had maintained an FMLA rights notice near the timeclock and provided managers with sufficient FMLA rights training.
2) Not Recognizing FMLA Qualified Absences
It is up to employers to determine if an employee’s absence falls under the FMLA. Eligible FMLA leave instances are not limited to medical reasons. Employers who fail to recognize FMLA qualified absences could suffer devastating consequences including costly legal verdicts, where payouts can reach several hundred thousand dollars and beyond. In a recent lawsuit, Moore v. GPS Hospitality Partners IV, LLC, the court upheld that the employer did not adequately inform the employee that their absence was FMLA qualified and allowed the lawsuit to proceed. The case ultimately resulted in a settlement.
3) FMLA Retaliation
Employers are not allowed to penalize employees in any way for taking FMLA covered leave. Any action taken against an employee specifically due to FMLA leave is considered retaliation and constitutes a violation. In the 2017 case of Walker v. Verizon Pennsylvania LLC, Verizon was ordered to pay a former employee $619,000 for FMLA retaliation and age discrimination. It was found that the plaintiff’s supervisors took her use of FMLA leave into account when deciding to lay her off.
Outsource the Burden of FMLA Management
For employers, the risk of managing FMLA internally is at an all-time high. That’s why outsourcing FMLA management has increased over 25% in the past few years. Many employers are choosing to trust BASIC, a nationwide leader in FMLA outsourcing. From companies with 50 employees to 15,000 employees, BASIC administers FMLA and absence management effectively, efficiently, and most importantly, with guaranteed compliance. Request a proposal today.