FMLA Administration Requires Diligence
Jennifer S. Mirus | 09.16.22
There are some tasks that tend not to rise to the top of the TO DO list. Ensuring that your Family and Medical Leave Administration is staying compliant tends to be one of those tasks.
If you have 50 or more employees, your organization is covered by the federal and Wisconsin FMLAs, and if you have multistate operations, you may be subject to a variety of state and even local leave laws.
A recent case out of West Virginia is a good reminder that diligence and consistency is key to compliant FMLA administration. In Fairmont Tool Inc., v. Opyoke, an employee took leave for cancer treatments. The employer did not provide the employee with any FMLA notices. Months later the employer provided the required FMLA forms to the employee. Shortly thereafter, the employer laid off the employee in a reduction of force. The employee sued the employer for FMLA retaliation and interference with his FMLA rights.
Ultimately, the employer won the case, because it had given the employee his full FMLA leave rights and the employee could not show that he was prejudiced in any way due to the failure to receive the notices. Nevertheless, the court stressed that the failure to give the required notices was a technical violation of the FMLA.
The case is a good reminder that FMLA notices are not optional — you must have a process established to ensure that you properly handle each step in the FMLA process. Some of the key steps are as follows:
- Within 5 days of an FLMA request, employer must provide the employee with a notice of the employee’s eligibility or ineligibility (has the employee met the service and hours threshholds)
- The employer also must provide notice of the employee’s rights and responsibilities in regard to the requested leave
- Employers should require medical certifications for all medical leaves
- Once the employer receives the certification, the employer must provide a designation notice to information the employee if the particular leave requested is approved or denied
Remember that the Department of Labor and the State or Wisconsin have model forms for your use.
In 2021, Boardman Clark conducted a 5‑part FMLA webinar series which provides detailed information about the FMLA process. We are making the series available for purchase. More information on the series is below.
Recorded Webinar Series
FMLA from A to Z
This series re-establishes FMLA basics and addresses recurring FMLA scenarios that pose problems for employers. Whether you are new to administering FMLA or a seasoned “pro,” this series will increase your understanding of the law and give you practical advice to improve your FMLA administration.Learn More →
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be legal advice. Rather, it seeks to make recipients aware of certain legal developments that affect human resource issues. Recipients who want legal advice concerning a particular matter should consult with an attorney who is given a full understanding of the relevant facts pertaining to the particular matter.