Michelle Cohen Levy

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What are some ways managers violate FMLA rules?

| Jul 21, 2019 | Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) |

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid leave to workers for medical issues they or their loved ones are experiencing. There are a number of rules in place dictating the proper FMLA procedures, both for employees as well as employers. According to SHRM.org, many supervisors violate these rules and regulations, both intentionally and unintentionally. This can result in legal woes if a worker files a claim stating that his or her rights have been violated.

An employee cannot be fired for taking approved leave, no matter how a manager might feel about the issue. Even if there are other issues in play, such as behavioral problems or issues with work output, even intimating a firing has to do with the leave or illness is problematic. Managers are also not permitted to discuss medical issues with other workers. Disclosing medical problems or the underlying reason for leave can incur huge legal blowback if the employee in question becomes aware of the disclosure. 

Employers must also reasonably accommodate those who are requesting leave. In one example, a supervisor continually insisted that a worker call in to discuss the leave even though the person’s mental health issues made it impossible to communicate in a meaningful way. When another family member phoned in on the worker’s behalf, he was told that only the worker in question could contact the office about the issue. Because of the supervisor’s reluctance to accommodate the worker, a court found that the employer was negligent in the subsequent firing and awarded the worker damages for wrongful termination. 

Lastly, when a person is on medical leave, he or she must not be solicited to help out at the place of work. While some requests, such as obtaining access to the person’s work computer, are acceptable, constantly requesting assistance with work tasks is not. Remember, FMLA offers unpaid leave, which means that work done during this time could be violating the rules.