FMLA Violations Can Make You a Target

Experienced HR managers know that the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid qualifying leave per year to eligible employees. What is less commonly known is that company decision makers (e.g., HR managers, office managers, etc.) can, in some instances, face personal exposure for violating FMLA requirements.

Under the FMLA, “an employer includes any person who acts, directly or indirectly, in the interest of an employer to any of the employer’s employees.” Several courts have held that personal liability may arise when decision makers acting in the interest of an employer violate the FMLA. Although personal liability determinations are rare, the prospect of being individually named in a lawsuit or administrative action can be an alarming one for even the most seasoned company managers.

Company decision makers can better protect themselves by taking care to ensure FMLA compliance and adhering to the following steps:

  • Address employee questions and concerns about their FMLA rights in a timely manner and proactively work to resolve them;
  • Ensure that all relevant information has been carefully reviewed and considered before disciplining an employee who has exercised (or attempted to exercise) FMLA rights;
  • Confirm that the employer’s own written policies are being applied fairly and as written; and
  • Seek the help of an attorney when in doubt about FMLA compliance or the company’s legal obligations. Obtaining legal guidance will not only protect against inadvertent violations but will also help to better shield company decision makers from legal exposure.

If you need assistance with issues pertaining to FMLA compliance, please contact Wright Beamer at (248) 477-6300 or visit our website.