How To Avoid Violating FMLA's Technical Rules
Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Labor commissioned a survey of the usage and impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act. The results not only lauded the benefits of the law for employees, which was not surprising, but also found that employers suffered "little to no negative impact from the FMLA," a finding which was surprising and seemingly in conflict with what was actually occurring in workplaces across the country. The Administrative Office of the United States Courts recently issued its annual statistics on types of claims filed in the federal courts, and these numbers stand in stark contrast to the DOL’s glib pronouncement. FMLA litigation has skyrocketed in recent years, a trend which is expected to continue. In 2012, 406 new cases were filed, in 2013, 987 new cases were filed, and in 2014, 1,114 new cases were filed. (See Annual Statistics of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.) These numbers provide tangible proof of the continuing challenges employers face with regard to FMLA compliance.
Part two of this article series continues with a discussion of what constitutes a “serious health condition” and the issues surrounding medical certifications, and provides specific guidance regarding the concerns raised min these areas. Taking the time up front to understand the statute’s nuanced and complex requirements, while a time-consuming endeavor, is an employer’s best and most cost-efficient litigation avoidance strategy, and the best defense when faced with the inevitable legal challenge. Knowledge really is power.
Part three of this series addressing compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act's complex technical requirements. Part three discusses the challenging issues employers confront when dealing with intermittent and reduced schedule leaves and what actions and comments constitute “interference” with FMLA rights. It concludes with practical guidance to help employers manage their FMLA leave processes carefully so as to minimize legal risk. Understanding and accurately applying the FMLA’s technical requirements are challenging tasks, and at times they can feel overwhelming, but compliance with each and every FMLA requirement is absolutely essential in today’s litigious environment to forestall or defend against the inevitable legal challenge.