October 14, 2019

October 14, 2019

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

October 11, 2019

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

What Am I Doing Wrong?? Common FMLA Mistakes

What did I do wrong?” and “Am I doing this correctly?” are frequent questions from clients regarding FMLA administration. This is the seventeenth in a series highlighting some of the more common mistakes employers can inadvertently make regarding FMLA administration.

Being unaware of new FMLA interpretations from the U.S. Department of Labor.

While the current version of the FMLA regulations has been in place since 2013, is important to keep up to date on the interpretation of the regulations by the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (“DOL”). This is especially the case now.  After a hiatus of several years, the DOL is again issuing opinion letters on the FMLA regulations. On August 28, 2018, the DOL issued two new advisory opinion FMLA letters.

Whether organ donation is a serious health condition

On August 28, 2018, the DOL published an opinion letter which answers the question, “Does organ-donation surgery…qualify as a ‘serious health condition’ under the FMLA?” In short, the DOL answered: “yes, it can.”

The DOL analyzed this question under a scenario where the donor is in good health before the donation, and chooses to donate the organ solely to improve someone else’s health. Citing the FMLA regulations, the DOL maintained that an organ donation can qualify as an impairment or physical condition that is a serious health condition when it involves either “inpatient care” or “continuing treatment.” Therefore, an organ donor can use FMLA leave for post-operative treatment, even where the organ-donation surgery requires an overnight stay.

To read the DOL’s opinion, see Organ Donation Opinion Letter

“No-fault” attendance policies

In the second letter, the DOL tackled the question of whether an employer’s no-fault attendance policy violates the FMLA where the policy effectively freezes, throughout the duration of an employee’s FMLA leave, the number of attendance points that the employee accrued prior to taking leave. The DOL concluded that such a policy does not violate the FMLA, provided it is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner.

Under the employer’s policy, employees accrue points for tardiness and absences, not including absences stemming from FMLA-protected leave. The points remain on an employee’s record for twelve months, and the employer extends that period for any time the employee spends not in “active service” including FMLA leave and other types of leave. The DOL noted that an employee neither loses a benefit that accrued prior to taking leave nor accrues any additional benefit to which the employee would not otherwise be entitled. The DOL reinforced its long-standing position that such practices do not violate the FMLA, as long as employees on equivalent types of leave receive the same treatment. The DOL noted, however, that if the employer counts equivalent types of leave as “active service” under its no-fault attendance policy, then the employer may be unlawfully discriminating against employees who take FMLA leave.

To read the DOL’s opinion, see No Fault Opinion Letter

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2019

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

Sheri Giger, Jackson Lewis, human resource policy attorney, employment labor development lawyer,
Principal

Sheri L. Giger is a Principal in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on preventive human resource policy development, training and counseling and advice.

Ms. Giger also works on policy/handbook development, particularly for multi-state issues and compliance. She also works with compliance issues under the American with Disabilities Act, as amended, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, as amended. Ms. Giger counsels and conducts extensive training on topics such as anti-harassment...

412-338-5146
Bryant Andrews, Jackson Lewis, employment lawyer
Associate

Bryant A. Andrews is an Associate in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counsel.

While attending law school, Mr. Andrews was an executive board member of Pittsburgh Tax Review, and was a member of the Pitt Law Moot Court Executive Board. Mr. Andrews was also team captain of the Earle Zehmer Workers’ Compensation Moot Court Team, and was a member of the Pitt Law Trial Competition Team. Mr. Andrews was a semifinalist in the 2015 Pitt Law Annual Negotiation Competition.

Prior to Attending law school, Mr. Andrews received a Proclamation for Community Involvement from the Allegheny County Council, and was an Omicron Delta Kappa Senior of the Year Award finalist.

412-338-5167