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Total Articles: 40

Are the DOL’s Proposed New FMLA Forms Just Another Version of Hamburger Helper?

Contrary to popular opinion, the biggest news lately out of the U.S. Department of Labor is not the fact that the agency just this week announced a final rule that would make over one million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay.

Department of Labor Affirms that FMLA Runs Concurrently with Paid Leave

On September 10, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Opinion Letter, FMLA2019-3-A, reinforcing the DOL’s position set out in an earlier opinion letter that “an employer is prohibited from delaying the designation of FMLA-qualifying leave as FMLA leave.” WHD Opinion Letter FMLA2019-1-A, 2019 WL 1514982 (Mar. 14, 2019). The September letter reiterates that an employer may not delay designating paid leave as FMLA leave, even if the delay complies with a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and the employee prefers that the FMLA designation be delayed.

Employees May Use FMLA Intermittent Leave to Attend Children's IEP Meetings, DOL Says

Employees may take intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to attend special education meetings to discuss their children's Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), according to a new opinion letter from the US Department of Labor (DOL).

DOL Declares That Parent Attendance at School IEP Meetings Are Covered by the FMLA

If I gave you a million tries, you’d never guess that the next Department of Labor FMLA opinion letter would answer the question [wait for it . . .]: Is an employee’s attendance at a child’s IEP meeting covered by the FMLA?

Documented Performance Issues and Inadequate Notice of Need for Leave Sink Employee’s FMLA Claims

Granting summary judgment to an employer on Family and Medical Leave Act claims asserted by a former employee, an Illinois district court held that: (1) the employee had failed to demonstrate his firing had any causal relationship to his prior FMLA leave (or any potential future need for FMLA leave); and (2) the employer’s initial denial of FMLA leave was justified based on the plaintiff’s failure to provide sufficient medical documentation justifying his wife’s “serious health condition.” Davidson v. Evergreen Park Community High School District 231, No. 15 C 0039, 2017 U.S. LEXIS 77724 (N.D. Ill. May 23, 2017).

Employer Violates FMLA for Failure to Provide Calculation of When Leave Expires, Court Rules

In a case reminding employers of their obligation to notify employees about their Family and Medical Leave Act rights, the District Court of New Jersey has ruled that an employer violated the FMLA when it terminated an employee without providing her notice that her modified return-to-work date exceeded her available leave. Ross v. Youth Consultation Service, Inc., No. 02229 (D.N.J. Dec. 29, 2016).

Employee Cannot Maintain Collective Action for Employer’s Failure to Post FMLA Notice

We all know that the FMLA is fraught with pitfalls that can lead to costly mistakes. But a collective action for simply failing to post a notice? On January 6, 2017 a U.S. District Court in Maryland rejected such an attempt.

DOL Issues Updated FMLA Notices and Forms Addressing GINA "Safe Harbor" Language Requirements

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued new versions of the agency's template Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) notices and certification forms, which have been approved for use for the next three years.

eLABORate: New Revisions to the Family Medical Leave Act Expand Coverage

On February 25, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor finalized a rule which extends the Family Medical Leave Act’s (“FMLA”) protections to married same-sex couples. The rule, originally proposed in June 2014, implements necessary policy changes resulting from the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark United States v. Windsor decision which overturned the section of the Defense of Marriage Act barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

DOL Final Rule Amends FMLA Definition of "Spouse"

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides that eligible employees of covered employers are entitled take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. On February 25, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Final Rule revising the definition of “spouse” under the FMLA to allow eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages to take FMLA-protected leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of where they live. The DOL asserts that the amendment will afford spouses in same-sex marriages the same ability as all spouses to fully exercise their FMLA rights.

If You Can’t Prove Your FMLA Notice was Received It May be Ineffective

One would think that giving an employee notice of his or her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) should be a rather uncomplicated process. Since every communication these days tends to be via email, when an employee is out, you could just send a quick e-mail asking for confirmation of the ongoing need for leave, right?

DOL’s Proposed Rule Redefines FMLA’s Definition of “Spouse” to Recognize “Place of Celebration”

On June 20, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a press release announcing a proposed rule extending the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to all eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages regardless of where they live. The DOL is proposing this rule in light of the June 2013 United States v. Windsor decision, in which the Supreme Court of the United States struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which limits the definition of “marriage” to opposite-sex unions and “spouse” to individuals of the opposite sex who are married for purposes of over 1,100 federal laws and regulations. The Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor left intact section 2 of DOMA, which expressly permits states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Depressed employee's vacation leave request did not qualify for FMLA protection.

The vacation request of an employee suffering from depression and anxiety did not qualify as a request for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), said the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While the request might prove medically beneficial, it did not qualify for FMLA protection, as it did not include any period of actual incapacity. Hurley v. Kent of Naples, Inc., 11th Cir., No. 13-10298, March 20, 2014.

Vegas Trip Considered Legitimate FMLA Leave

Most human resources personnel know that under the Family Medical Leave Act, covered employers must give eligible employees twelve workweeks off in a twelve-month period “to care for” a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition. However, what happens when caring for a terminally ill parent, physically and psychologically, brings the employee to Vegas for vacation? Recently, the Seventh Circuit Court held this constitutes “caring for” the family member and is a proper use of the leave.

ASK Fisher & Phillips: FMLA Request

We have an employee who was off for five days taking care of his sick wife. He has been with the dealership for more than a year and worked more than 1,250 hours last year. I sent him the FMLA paperwork. He called me and said that he did not want to use his time off for FMLA, and instead was just going to use unpaid time off. What do I do now?

DOL Celebrates FMLA’s 20th Anniversary with New Regulations

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) turned 20 years old on February 5, 2013. In celebration, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued new regulations. The new regulations cover 1) leave related to members or veterans of the military and 2) leave for airline flight crew employees. This article focuses on the former.

DOL Issues Final Rule Regarding FMLA Changes for Military Caregivers and Flight Crew

On February 6, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule to implement amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) made by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (NDAA) and the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act (AFCTCA). To assist employers with compliance, the DOL has created a web page with a FAQ sheet on the final rule, a new FMLA poster, and a new Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave–Form WH-385-V.

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidelines on Parents' Rights to FMLA Leave for Adult Children Care

Since its enactment in 1993, an unresolved issue under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA" or "the Act") was exactly how the definition of "son or daughter" under Section 101(12) of the Act applied to adult children, 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability. In interpretive guidelines just issued by the U.S. Department of Labor ("USDOL"), which enforces the FMLA, the federal agency clarified that the age of a son or daughter at the onset of a disability is not relevant in determining a parent's entitlement to FMLA leave. Employers need to be aware that the new guidelines will expand the number of employees who will now be eligible to take FMLA leave to care for adult children.

Legal Alert: Department of Labor Issues New Guidance Clarifying FMLA Qualifying Leave

Executive Summary: The Department of Labor (DOL) has clarified the definition of "son or daughter" to now permit an eligible employee to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for an adult child who is incapable of self-care because of a disability, regardless of how old the child was when the disability commenced. This clarification also impacts the FMLA's military caregiver provision.

Employee's signs of severe emotional distress and anxiety may constitute a "report" of the need for FMLA leave.

To state a claim of interference under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employee must show that he or she has put the employer on notice that an absence may be covered by the FMLA. This ordinarily means that at least verbal notice must be provided to the employer within one or two business days of the point at which the need for leave becomes known to the employee. Recently, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in an employer’s favor, holding that an employee’s signs of severe distress and anxiety were sufficient to inform her employer of the possible need for medical leave. Clinkscale v. St. Therese of Hope, 8th Cir., No. 12-1223, November 13, 2012.

Visit to doctor for prescription refill is not "treatment" for purposes of FMLA.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid leave time to eligible employees under specific circumstances, including the serious health condition of the employee. It is a violation of the FMLA for an employer to interfere with an employee’s use or attempted use of FMLA leave time. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an employee who did not receive actual medical treatment during a specific absence could not support an FMLA interference claim for his termination. Jones v. C&D Technologies, Inc., 7th Cir, No. 11-3400, June 28, 2012.

Taking FMLA leave does not affect employee's obligations under non-FMLA attendance policies.

Employment termination during an employee’s leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may constitute “interference” with that leave. However, an employer typically does not violate the FMLA if it terminates an employee for failing to comply with the company’s policies regarding absences, even if those absences occur during a protected FMLA leave. A recent decision by the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reminds us that the FMLA is not a law that can remedy an employee’s failure to follow a company’s sick leave policies. Pellegrino v. Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, CLC, 3d Cir., No.11-2639, April 19, 2012.

To invoke FMLA protection for care of another, some geographic proximity is required by the employee.

In an unpublished opinion, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an individual who requests FMLA leave to care for a seriously ill family member must have some role in providing the “care” required by the relative’s illness. According to the Fifth Circuit, a father who left his seriously injured daughter in the care of his wife while he readied the family’s home for their return was unable to support a claim for FMLA retaliation after he was fired from his job at the conclusion of his FMLA leave.

Insufficient medical information justifies refusal of FMLA leave.

The federal regulations that support the Family and Medical Leave Act require that an employee submit to his or her employer certain medical facts within the knowledge of the employee’s health care provider, including information related to the incapacitation, examination, or treatment that may be required by a health care provider. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a federal employer had the discretion to convert an employee’s conditionally granted FMLA leave to an “absent without leave (“AWOL”) status after the employee refused to provide more than minimal information about the reasons for her requested leave.

Employee's failure to respond to phone calls from employer regarding his request for FMLA leave precludes a claim against employer under that Act.

Most employers recognize that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) prohibits them from denying, restraining, or interfering with an employee’s rights to qualified leave. Last week’s Update addressed a situation in which an employer’s frequent phone calls to the employee asking when she would return to work while she was on FMLA leave may have interfered with that employee’s FMLA rights.

Employer can require compliance with call-in policy, even during FMLA leave.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an employee who was fired for repeatedly violating her employer’s call-in policy cannot proceed with her lawsuit under the FMLA.

Impaired Employee May Be Excused From Heightened Reporting Requirement for FMLA Leave.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal has held that an impaired individual may not be required to comply directly with her employer’s heightened reporting requirements associated with FMLA leave. Saenz v. Harlingen Medical Center, LP, 5th Circ., No. 09-40887, August 2, 2010.

Impaired employee may be excused from heightened reporting requirement for FMLA leave.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal has held that an impaired individual may not be required to comply directly with her employer’s heightened reporting requirements associated with FMLA leave.

DOL Clarifies FMLA Definition Of "Son Or Daughter".

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued an "Administrator's Interpretation" on the definition of "son or daughter" under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The federal law allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for a number of reasons, including for the adoption or the birth of a child or to care for a son or daughter with a "serious health condition." The interpretation, issued by Nancy Leppink, Deputy Administrator of the DOL's Wage and Hour Division, would broaden the definition of persons who stand in loco parentis so as to include employees in same-sex or other non-traditional relationships (without regard to their legal or biological relationship with the child).

FMLA rights regarding childcare may apply without specific legal or biological relationship.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) establishes protected leave for specific circumstances, including the birth or placement of a son or daughter, care of a newborn or newly placed son or daughter, and care for a son or daughter with a serious health condition. On June 22, 2010, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor issued Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2010-3 in response to requests for guidance regarding whether employees who do not have a biological or legal relationship with a child may take FMLA leave for birth, bonding, and to care for the child.

DOL Expands Leave Rights Under FMLA.

On June 22, 2010 the Department of Labor issued an Administrative Interpretation clarifying the definition of "son or daughter" under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with respect to non-military leave. The new Interpretation grants leave rights to individuals who assume the responsibilities of a parent by providing day-to-day care or financial support for a child, regardless of whether there is a legal or biological relationship between the individual and the child.

New FMLA Regulations Take Effect.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations issued late last year by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) took effect on January 16, 2009. According to Al Robinson, a shareholder with the firm's Washington, D.C. office and the former acting Administrator of the DOL's Wage and Hour Division (which enforces the FMLA): "The new regulations change the pro-vision of family and medical leave in the workplace, particularly the new basis for leave for families of individuals in the military. As a result, employers must become familiar with these changes and adjust their policies accordingly."


On November 17, 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued the first new regulations governing the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) since the law’s 1993 enactment. The final regulations, which take effect January 16, are intended to be more “user-friendly” for both employers and employees.

Calling In Sick Without Providing Additional Information is Not Sufficient to Trigger FMLA.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. The FMLA specifically prohibits employers from interfering with an employee’s attempt to exercise his or her rights under that Act. In order to exercise those rights on the basis of an employee’s own “serious medical condition,” the employee must provide notice to the employer of the seriousness of the health condition that forms the basis of the leave request. Recently, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that calling in sick, without providing additional information, does not provide sufficient notice of a “serious health condition” under the FMLA.

Third Circuit Rejects Controversial FMLA Regulation.

Joining other federal courts, the Third Circuit recently rejected a Department of Labor regulation, 29 C.F.R. §825.110(d), which deems an employee eligible for FMLA leave, even if the employee does not satisfy the FMLA’s eligibility requirements, when an employer fails to advise an employee of his/her eligibility after leave is requested. Here, the plaintiff had not worked the required 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding her requested leave, but her employer failed to respond to her request for FMLA leave for the birth of her child.

Refusal To Provide Medical Certification Dooms Worker's FMLA Case.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by an employee who was fired after she refused to provide medical documentation substantiating her need for a reduced work schedule. According to the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over Illinois, the employer “cannot be deemed to retaliate against an employee by asking her to fulfill her obligations” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

FMLA: Labor Department Releases Revisions (pdf).

Highlights of the proposed changes.

DOL Publishes Long-Awaited Proposals to Update FMLA Regulations.

For some time now, business groups have been calling for a substantial overhaul of FMLA regulations that have proven to be unduly vague, cumbersome, and in some cases, completely out of touch with the realities of today’s workplace. It seems that those requests are no longer falling on deaf ears. On February 11th, the Department of Labor took a substantial step toward regulatory reform by publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register. Once implemented, the final rules will contain regulatory language based upon comments submitted during the review process. Although a final set of new regulations is still months away, a spokesperson for the administration expressed her desire to implement changes by the end of President Bush’s term. The proposed rules will remain open for public comment through April 11, 2008.

Verbal Notice Sufficient to Relay Intend to Take FMLA Leave (pdf).

Court reinstates workers interference claim.

DOL to Publish FMLA Proposals: Changes to Existing Regulations and Comments on New Military Family Leave.

On Monday, February 11, 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is expected to publish in the Federal Register a dual-purpose proposal on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The DOL's first purpose is to propose revisions to certain existing FMLA regulations. These are the first proposed changes to the existing regulations since the FMLA was passed in 1993. The other reason for the proposal is to request public comments on a wide variety of issues related to the new military family leave entitlements that were contained in the National Defense Authorization Act. The DOL will use these comments to issue final regulations for these new military family leave entitlements.
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