Employees Must Be Given Clear, Actual Notice of FMLA Policies


Ambiguity and confusion can be costly. In Thom v. American Standard, Inc., the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals awarded liquidated damages in a case “arising from confusion as to when an employee should return to work after his leave.”

The plaintiff, an employee who had worked for American Standard for 36 years, went on medical leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to undergo surgery for a non-work related injury. The company granted his leave request and informed him, in writing, that his leave would extend until June 27. Following his surgery, the plaintiff began recovering faster than expected by his doctor. His doctor provided him with a note releasing him to light duty beginning May 31 and to full duty on June 13. As a result, the plaintiff attempted to return to work on May 31, which was before the expiration of his approved FMLA leave. He was not allowed to return to work at that time because the company did not permit employees with non-work related injuries to perform light duty work temporarily after FMLA leave.

On June 14, the company contacted the plaintiff to ask why he had not returned to work the previous day. The plaintiff explained that he was suffering from increased pain and would return to work on June 27, as originally scheduled. The plaintiff received a doctor’s note explaining his condition and delivered it to the company on June 18. When he delivered the doctor’s note, he was informed that each day between June 13 and June 17 was as an unexcused absence and, consequently, his employment was terminated.

Please see full alert below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Littler | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.