VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

The continuing evolution of the Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act is complex, and understanding its application continues to evolve. The advent of recent FMLA judgments could seriously affect employers' day-to-day business options.

Increased Risks of Class Action Suits

In Carrel v. MedPro Group, Inc., the US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana ruled that the language in FMLA law does not specifically require the consent of members to join a class action suit. That decision could make class action suits even more attractive to attorneys for employees.

Simply put, employers could be facing a future of increased litigation that is costly in time, money and their reputations.

Notification and FMLA Access

In Valdivia v. Township High School District 214, a secretary alleged that she worked in a hostile work environment. To make matters worse, her employer did not try to hide outright indifference to the medical issues resulting from the tenor of her professional surroundings.

In its decision, the US District Court of the Northern District of Illinois re-enforced previous opinions that employers must make every attempt possible to proactively inform employees in distress of their protected medical leave rights. That includes staff members who may not be aware of a health condition. Any apparent abnormalities in the staff member's behavior may equal constructive notice of serious health problems.

Retaliation without Evidence

A precedential decision saw the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rule that an employee taking FMLA leave does not need direct evidence to prove retaliation. The plaintiff in Egan v. Delaware River Port Authority took approved FMLA leave only to discover that his position was being eliminated.

A lower court ruled that termination was not the result of the medical leave. On appeal, the circuit court found that the employees should be confident in taking medical leave without interference. Employers cannot use that time off as a factor in making employment decisions. It creates an appearance of impropriety that will likely result in future lawsuits and adverse judgments.

An attorney experienced in Family Medical Leave Act is a necessary resource and invaluable advocate when FMLA-related legal problems arise. Contact VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP, at 606-618-0698.

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