Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

May 20, 2014

Employer who attempted to retroactively rescind FMLA leave learns a tough lesson

Leave Laws 

In a recent case, a court ruled in favor of an employee on a federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) interference claim when the employer attempted to retroactively deny leave it had already granted and to recoup medical insurance premiums paid on the employee’s behalf.

In a recent case, a court ruled in favor of an employee on a federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) interference claim when the employer attempted to retroactively deny leave it had already granted and to recoup medical insurance premiums paid on the employee’s behalf. In this case, the employer did not follow set procedures for documenting leave approval, designation, and tracking. The employer “inadvertently” assured an employee that he could take intermittent leave after his protected leave ended. When the employer later discovered its error, it attempted to rescind the leave. It also sought to recoup medical insurance premiums paid on the employee’s behalf. The court ruled that the employer could not take this action after previously having assured the employee that the leave would be protected (Holder v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 7th Cir., May 2014).

Tips: This was an expensive mistake for the employer which could have been avoided with a more efficient process in handling leave requests. Besides losing the case, litigation costs for a trial and an appeal are not cheap. It is worth taking the time to review your FMLA (and state leave law) process to determine eligibility, entitlement, and designation of protected leave.

First, carefully review an employee’s eligibility and entitlement. Eligibility refers to whether you are a covered employer and whether the employee has worked long enough to qualify for extended coverage. Entitlement refers to monitoring the employee’s individual leave bank to determine how much leave is available. For example, this is important if you use a “rolling” leave year which looks backward for twelve months. Finally, you can best protect the company by following a consistent process for handling leave requests, medical certification, designation, and consistently tracking any leave.

Check out the following Legal Guides for detailed instructions: “FMLA: Certification Procedures” (1558); “FMLA: Eligibility Requirements” (3128): and “FMLA: Defining the 12-Month Period for Calculating Leave” (1931). For additional guidance, read our leave law articles, or contact your Vigilant staff representative.

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