FMLA and Absence Management

January 07, 2020

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In this episode of The Bottom Line, Jane Romanowski, from ADP, and Tim Schuster discuss the Family and Medical Leave act.  

Jane Romanowski can be reached at jane.romanowski@adp.com


Transcript

Tim Schuster: Hello and welcome to a special edition of “The Bottom Line.” This podcast examines the everyday business and finance issues faced by closely held and private businesses. We hope to provide you with news you can use in what we like to think of as a jargon-free zone. To our listeners of this podcast series, I'm throwing you yet again another curve ball.

I am your host, Tim Schuster, and with us today is a special guest, Jane Romanowski, who is a Senior Account Manager from ADP. Today we'll discuss with Jane the Family Medical Leave Act.

Jane, welcome.

Jane Romanowski: Hi, Tim.

TS: Jane, would you mind discussing the basics of FMLA please?
JR: Of course. Covered employers include public and educational agencies and private companies with over 50 employees. Like many laws, many states have a lower threshold for this, and that should be looked at if the employer is based in one of these states. Employees are not eligible for FMLA until they have worked for their current employer for 12 months and 1,250 hours.

Eligible employees qualify for protected time off for childbirth and care for adoption or foster care, placement of a child for adoption or foster care, care for a child, spouse or parent with a serious health condition, a serious health condition for the employee, any qualifying exigency arriving for a covered military service member or family member, and care for a service member or veteran family member with a serious injury or illness.
TS: Wow, that's amazing. There's a lot of items here that are protected. That's fantastic. Would you mind discussing what the administrative requirements are with this?
JR: Well, Tim, the FMLA does carry many administrative requirements for the employer and the employee, from a notice of leave down to the medical certification. If you think that your business is going to face an issue, please reach out directly to me so that we can walk you through the process.
TS: Oh, that's great. Everyone loves hearing examples. Would you mind informing our listeners of some?
JR: There are two main types of lawsuits that happen between employees and employers regarding FMLA. The first is FMLA interference where the employer may not prevent an employee from taking FMLA leave. However, the employee must show in this case that they're actually eligible for the leave, that they work for a covered employee, and that the leave was entitled and that she was actually, he or she was actually denied for FMLA. The second type of lawsuit that could take place is retaliation. An employer may not terminate an employee for filing for FMLA.
TS: That's wild. Before we recorded this today, Jane and I were actually discussing a court case. Jane, would you mind providing some little bit of background and details of the court case?
JR: Sure, of course there's been many court cases, but one that comes to mind is Lyons verse Stephenson County in May 2018. In this case, the plaintiff and her husband actually worked for the County Sheriff's office at the same time, and the plaintiff was on FMLA leave following the birth of her child. So during her leave, the defendant actually instituted a new policy where married parties are only allowed 12 weeks total leave for the same event. The defendant informed the plaintiff that she could either return two weeks early from her leave or she could resign completely. The defendant decided that she was going to actually resign but then reapplied for her position later. The defendant actually declined to rehire her in this case.

So what happened was the plaintiff sued alleging FMLA interference and discrimination. The court actually held that the employer did not violate FMLA by changing its policy after the employee was already out on leave and did not violate the FMLA by counting her husband's leave against hers.
TS: Wow, that's crazy.
JR: Yeah.
TS: I mean, to me, this looks like our big takeaway for our listeners here are these rules are extremely complicated.
JR: Very complex.
TS: You want to make sure that you have someone there who can help you through this process. Jane, you're wonderful, someone that they can reach out to. Thank you so much, as always, Jane, for being here today. And before we close out our podcast, I like to provide one of my famous fun facts. I don't know if you knew this, but the state of Florida is larger than England itself.
JR: Wow.
TS: Right? I would've never thought that actually.
JR: Me neither.
TS: So thank you so much for listening to the bottom line as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. If you have any questions or if there's a topic you'd like us to cover, email us at contact@eisneramper.com. Visit eisneramper.com for more information on this and a host of other topics, and join us for our next EisnerAmper podcast when we get down to business.

About Tim Schuster

Mr. Schuster is a Senior Manager providing tax compliance services to individual filers, as well as assistance on tax returns for companies in the manufacturing and real estate industries.


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