Employment Newsletter - March 2013: Recent Federal District Court Case Highlights the Importance of “Individual” FMLA Notices to Employees on FMLA Leave

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The New Jersey U.S. District Court has held that providing a general notice of employee rights and responsibilities under the FMLA may not be enough to avoid liability even where an employee has received all required leave and where that employee fails to return to work at the end of that leave. Young v. The Wackenhut Corporation, Civil Action No. 10-2608 (D.N.J. Feb. 1, 2013).

Facts of the Case -

When it granted one of its employees, Jacqueline Young, leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), The Wackenhut Corporation (Wackenhut) apparently thought that it had satisfied its legal obligations under that law. Wackenhut had responded to Young’s request for FMLA leave by granting her the full 12 weeks of unpaid leave required by the FMLA. When Young failed to return to work on time, Wackenhut first called her and subsequently terminated her employment almost two weeks after her FMLA leave had expired. There was no suggestion that Young had any additional leave available under any Wackenhut policy. Moreover, there was no dispute that Wackenhut had satisfied the general notice requirements by providing a handbook notifying employees of their FMLA rights.

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