Employers learn expensive FMLA notice lesson


The FMLA mandates employers give written notices to employees

Notice requirements under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) continue to be a challenge for some employers. Two separate FMLA cases illustrate that when employers did not provide employees with the required FMLA notices, it resulted in financial consequences.

On January 18, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recovered $47,728 in back wages and liquidated damages for two former employees of two separate Tennessee-based health care providers. The DOL found the employers violated the employees’ rights to protected leave under the FMLA.

The details

Employer #1: Investigators with the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found one employer illegally fired a medical office assistant after the employee exercised their right to request and use FMLA-protected leave for a qualifying health condition.

Employer #2: In a separate investigation, the WHD found another employer illegally fired a housekeeper after the employee exercised their right to request and use FMLA-protected leave for a qualifying health condition.

WHD investigators determined the employers did not:

  • Tell the workers that they may have been eligible for leave within five business days of learning that their leave may be FMLA-qualifying.
  • Give a rights and responsibilities notice in writing to each employee when they requested the leave or within five business days of learning of the leave, as mandated.
  • Tell employees if their leave is designated as FMLA-qualifying (or not) within five business days of knowledge of their leave.
  • Correctly classify each of the employee’s absences from work as FMLA-qualifying.
  • Include all required information about the FMLA in their company handbooks.

Give the notices

The majority of the issues the employers had involved giving employees the required FMLA notices. Employers have a duty to give employees certain information in writing about the FMLA, including an eligibility/rights and responsibilities notice and a designation notice. These are not simply insignificant pieces of paperwork.

In a survey conducted regularly by J.nbsp; J. Keller & Associates, Inc., employers usually say that meeting the FMLA notice deadlines is the least of their concerns. While most employers appear to be meeting these deadlines, not all are complying.

Key to Remember: Failure to give employees FMLA information can lead to an investigation and fines, as these two employers learned the hard way.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. The content of these news items, in whole or in part, MAY NOT be copied into any other uses without consulting the originator of the content.


The J. J. Keller LEAVE MANAGER service is your business resource for tracking employee leave and ensuring compliance with the latest Federal and State FMLA and leave requirements.