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Employment Law Alert

News and Updates on Employment Law

Category Archives: Family Leave

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Second Circuit Holds Human Resources Director May Be Individually Liable Under FMLA

Posted in 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”).… Continue Reading

New York State Enacts a New Paid Family Leave Law

Posted in Family Leave
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.… Continue Reading

Federal DOL Issues Joint Employer Guidance to Interpret FLSA and MSPA

Posted in Family Leave, Wage & Hour
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.… Continue Reading

DOL Extends FMLA Spousal Care Leave Rights to Same-Sex Spouses

Posted in Family Leave
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.… Continue Reading

Gibbons Employment Article Featured on Cover of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel

Posted in Employee Benefits, Employment Agreements, Family Leave
"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.… Continue Reading

Employers Must Make Sure They Have Evidence of Employee’s Receipt of FMLA Notices

Posted in Family Leave
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.… Continue Reading

Windsor Decision Brings Equal Benefits to Some Same-Sex Couples and Compliance Concerns to Employers

Posted in Family Leave
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.… Continue Reading

Employee’s Facebook Posting Sinks Her FMLA Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

Posted in Disability, Family Leave
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.… Continue Reading

Amendments to FMLA Mean Changes to Military Leave Provisions, Forms and Postings

Posted in Family Leave
On February 6, 2013, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) published final regulations that amend the Family and Medical Leave Act's ("FMLA") military leave provisions and eligibility requirements for pilots and flight crews. Other changes impacting the minimum increments of time allowable for measuring FMLA leave and recordkeeping requirements are also part of the final regulations. The new regulations take effect on March 8, 2013, giving employers only a few weeks to ensure that their policies and forms are updated.… Continue Reading

Third Circuit Rules That Employers Need Not Accommodate Work Restrictions at End of FMLA Leave

Posted in Family Leave
Are employers required to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee to facilitate his or her return to the same or equivalent position at the conclusion of an FMLA leave? According to a recent decision from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the answer is no, provided the employee is unable to perform the essential functions of his job position. The case, Macfarlan v. Ivy Hill, provides important guidance for employers who must make such determinations upon an employee's return from FMLA-protected leave.… Continue Reading

New Updated FMLA Forms Issued by DOL

Posted in Family Leave
Without any substantive changes, new updated model Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms have been issued by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) website and are available on the DOL website (in the section for Wage and Hour Division Forms). Employers using the former model FMLA forms on the DOL website should replace their prior versions, which expired on December 31, 201, with the new versions. Employers using their own FMLA forms should include appropriate language to prevent employee disclosure of genetic information prohibited by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). Such language should generally be included in the employer's FMLA policies and other employee communications. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations suggest a "safe harbor" notice to include in such communications to effectively lessen the chance of an inappropriate disclosure of genetic information.… Continue Reading

Supervisor Can Be Held Liable Individually Under FMLA, Third Circuit Holds

Posted in Family Leave
In a case of first impression, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that a supervisor may be individually liable for violating the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). While noting that individual liability is not recognized in some Circuit Courts, the Third Circuit in Haybarger v. Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole reached a contrary conclusion.… Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Labor Publishes Proposed Rules for Military FMLA

Posted in Family Leave
On Monday, January 28, 2012 the United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing statutory amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions concerning military family leave and flight crew eligibility. The proposed rules will be published in the Federal Register and interested parties may submit written comments within a defined period of time, which has not yet been specified.… Continue Reading

Failure to Notify Employee of FMLA Rights Prevents Dismissal of FMLA and Disability Retaliation Claims According to NJ District Court

Posted in Family Leave
The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), which, among other things, affords eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the employee's own serious medical condition and reinstatement to the employee's former or equivalent position, includes stringent notice obligations for employers. A New Jersey District Court recently reinforced the importance of complying with the statute's notice requirements. In Antone v. Nobel Learning Communities, Inc., the court denied the defendant employer's motion to dismiss, rejecting its argument that the employee was not protected by the FMLA when she was terminated more than 12 weeks after she commenced leave because the employer failed to provide the requisite FMLA information to the employee. The Court similarly denied the employer's motion to dismiss disability retaliation claims based on improper notification required by the FMLA.… Continue Reading

Recent New Jersey Appellate Division Case Reminds Employers to Carefully Draft Written Communications to Employees Regarding Leaves of Absence

Posted in Family Leave
The New Jersey Appellate Division's recent decision in Lapidoth v. Telcordia Techs., Inc., 2011 N.J. Super. LEXIS 103 (App. Div. June 9, 2011) serves as an important reminder that an employer must exercise care in communications with employees regarding leaves of absence to avoid unintended contractual obligations, even when the employer has complied with its statutory obligations.… Continue Reading

Recent District of New Jersey Decision Reinforces Need for Common Sense in Responding to Employee Requests for Family and Medical Leave

Posted in Family Leave
The recent District of New Jersey decision in Conteh v. Francis E. Parker Memorial Home, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41360 (D.N.J. April 15, 2011) serves as a valuable reminder for employers that the exercise of basic common sense in responding to employee requests for family and medical leave can go a long way toward preventing litigation.… Continue Reading