The Family and Medical Leave Act requires that employers inform employees of available relief. Generally, an employer is covered by the FMLA if it is a private employer with 50 or more employees, a public agency, or a public or private elementary or secondary school. The FMLA provides, among other things, 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave for workers who must miss work for an illness, the illness of a family member (more FMLA info here). All covered employers must have a general notice about the FMLA posted, must provide employees general notice about the FMLA, notify workers of their eligibility status and rights and responsibilities, and notify employees whether specific leave is designated as FMLA leave and how much time will be used against their FMLA leave entitlement.
A worker's eligibility is determined and notice of elibility status must be provided the first time the worker takes leave for a FMLA-qualifying reason in the employer's designated 12-month leave year. This notice can be verbal or written and must be provided within 5 business days of the initial request for leave or when the employer knows that the leave may be for an FMLA-qualifying reason, must inform the workers of their eligibility status, and if the worker is determined to not be eligible, must state the reason why not.
Recently the Department of labor settled a case against office supply retail giant Staples for failing to inform a worker of his rights when he informed them he would need to take time to care for his ailing wife. For two years, the worker used personal, sick, and vacation days, and worked remotely to balance his need to care for his wife with his work obligations. Then Staples fired him.
Following a Department of Labor investigation, the agency filed a lawsuit against Staples for violating the FMLA in failing to inform the worker of his rights. Part of the settlement includes an agreement that Staples will promote a company wide policy for compliance with the FMLA; the worker also received $137,500 in lost wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.
The North Carolina employment law-firm Edelstein & Payne only represents workers. We have experience litigating Family and Medical Leave Act issues, including cases where workers have been retaliated against for exercising their rights under the law. If you believe that you have been mistreated or left in the dark regarding your rights under the FMLA, contact us to schedule a consultation by filling out the form on our employment law page.