There are occasions when an employer becomes concerned that an employee on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA” or “the Act”) is using the leave for purposes not authorized by the Act. That situation was presented in Capps v. Mondelez Global, LLC, a recently issued opinion from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. There, the Court held that an employer’s good faith belief that an employee was abusing his authorized FMLA leave constituted sufficient grounds on which to terminate the employee. The case provides valuable guidance as to how employers should proceed in such situations. The Facts Frederick Capps worked as a dough mixing machine operator for Mondelez Global (“Mondelez”). Because of a blood flow condition, Capps underwent bilateral hip replacement. At times thereafter, he suffered from severe leg pain and was continuously recertified approximately every six months for intermittent FMLA leave for his condition. On the evening of February 14, 2013, Capps was arrested for driving under the influence and spent the night in jail. He had not reported to work that day having called Mondelez’s FMLA message line complaining of leg pain. On August 7, 2013, Capps pled guilty to a DUI charge and spent 72 hours in jail immediately following the guilty plea. The company did not have a policy...
Category: Family Leave
Employers should be aware that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has held, in Graziadio v. Culinary Institute of America, that supervising employees can be held individually liable under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) for retaliation and interference with an employee’s FMLA rights. The Court also formally adopted standards for FMLA interference claims and for claims brought pursuant to the associational discrimination provision of the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
New York State recently passed the Paid Family Leave Benefits Law, which is among the strongest and most comprehensive leave statutes in the country. The new law amends the State’s current disability law, and imposes obligations on employers beginning in 2018. Unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the NY law will provide both protected leave and paid benefits during the leave. The new law covers employers in the for-profit sector, with at least one employee, along with certain other employers in the public and not-for-profit sectors.
The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”), Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) recently issued an Administrator’s Interpretation (“Interpretation”) on joint employer liability under the Fair Labor Standards, Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq. and the Migrant Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., that provides additional guidance to employers but also may demonstrate the DOL’s increased efforts to focus on joint employer liability for wage and hour compliance. According to the WHD, the workplace increasingly involves use of outsourcing, shared employees, integrated employers, and other forms of co-dependent business models. The WHD seeks to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws for entities that rely upon such alternative workforces. While the Interpretation is not binding upon the courts and constitutes guidance for employers, it lists factors extrapolated from court decisions, other DOL guidance, and related sources that should be considered where an employer utilizes alternative labor sources or has sister or related entities that share common operations or are interdependent.
The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently issued a Final Rule revising the definition of “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) to include same-sex spouses for purposes of FMLA leave, regardless of the couple’s state of residence. Under the prior FMLA regulations, whether or not an employee had a “spouse” was determined by the law of the state where the employee resided. Notably, however, the Final Rule does not expand the definition of “spouse” to include domestic partners. Rather, only employees who are legally married are covered under the new regulations. The Final Rule takes effect on March 27, 2015.
“Five New Year’s Resolutions for Employers,” written by Employment & Labor Law Department Directors Kelly Bird and Carla Dorsi, was the featured cover story in this month’s Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. The article outlines the following five employment practices for clients to focus on in 2015. Resolution #1: I will review my company’s arbitration agreements. Resolution #2: I will examine my company’s hiring practices, from job postings through background checks. Resolution #3: I will ensure my company’s paid time off policies and practices are compliant with paid sick leave laws. Resolution #4: I will rethink my company’s policies and practices concerning pregnant employees. Resolution #5: I will equip my employees with the knowledge and ability to comply with and enforce my company’s policies and our legal obligations.
In a recent case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Lupyan v. Corinthian Colleges Inc., an employee who did not return to work until after her 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) had expired was able to avoid summary judgment against her because her employer was unable to come up with any hard evidence that she had actually received the FMLA notices mailed to her while on leave. The decision is a clear warning to employers that they run a real risk in FMLA litigation that notices sent by ordinary mail to an employee on leave may not carry the day.
Keeping track of all of the state and federal family and medical leave laws, paid family leave laws, and workers’ compensation and disability laws is difficult for any business owner or HR professional. Properly determining leave eligibility and ensuring that leave is not abused is even harder and generates the most mistakes and lawsuits.
Windsor Decision Brings Equal Benefits to Some Same-Sex Couples and Compliance Concerns to Employers
The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act provision limiting the federal definition of marriage to legal unions between one man and one woman, has left employers and employees alike scratching their heads regarding what the ruling means for family and medical leaves and employee benefits. Will compliance with Windsor require a bit more work for in-house counsel and human resources professionals? In the short term, yes. And given the likelihood of further changes in state marriage laws and federal agency guidance on numerous issues stemming from the Windsor ruling, continued monitoring and future adjustments are to be expected. But when the full impact of the Windsor decision shakes out, the end result should be equal treatment of same-sex couples with regard to leaves and employee benefits and fewer administrative burdens for companies in managing these benefits – changes that should be welcome to same-sex couples and employers alike.
A Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) plaintiff’s leave was proven fraudulent through her Facebook postings, resulting in summary judgment for her employer, dismissing her complaint. The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan concluded that the employer’s reason for her termination was legitimate and unrelated to her exercise of FMLA rights.