Best Ohio FMLA Attorney Answer: What if I take medical leave and my employer does not properly inform me of my rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act? Does my boss have to give me written notice of expectations and obligations when I take FMLA leave? Do I have to specifically ask for FMLA papers? Can I be laid off or given a different position upon returning from FMLA? What is the best way to find an Ohio FMLA lawyer?
Under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), employers are required to inform employees of their rights when they request leave under the FMLA. The specific requirement under the FMLA is that an employer must provide an employee “a written notice detailing the specific expectations and obligations of the employee and explaining the consequences of a failure to meet these obligations.” Many HR departments of large companies are well versed in the notice requirements of the FMLA and have specific documentation at the ready when employees request medical leave. But, what happens when a company has “loose” and rarely enforced policies when it comes to FMLA leave? Is it the employee who ends up paying for the failure of the employer to properly inform the employee for their rights and obligations under the FMLA?
That question was posed in a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio) case where an employee wasn’t properly informed of her rights when she requested FMLA leave for a pregnancy. In Clements v. Prudential Protective Services, LLC, Telitha Clements, an employee for a security company, informed her supervisor that she was taking medical leave for the birth of her baby. Clements’ supervisor told her to let him know when she would be returning to work and the supervisor would put her back on the schedule.
However, the supervisor never told anyone in the corporate office about Clements’ medical leave. Six weeks after the birth of the Clements’ baby, Clements contacted the supervisor and told him she was ready to return to work. Clements was informed that hours had been cut because of a lack of business, so the employee could not be put back on the schedule. When Clements visited work after being told she could not be put back on the schedule, Prudential’s VP of Operations told her that she was not technically laid off because security jobs were available at other locations, and as such, Prudential stopped authorizing her unemployment benefits.
Clements then filed an FMLA retaliation and wrongful termination lawsuit against Prudential claiming that Prudential interfered with her rights under the FMLA by not returning her to the position she held before she went on leave or to an equivalent position. The trial court sided with Prudential, holding that Clements did not comply with FMLA notice requirements before she took leave, and she suffered no harm from Prudential’s failure to notify her of her rights under the FMLA.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court and sided with Clements. The appellate court held that there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether Clements was truly “laid off” during her leave and whether there were comparable positions available to her. Most importantly, however, the court determined Prudential had “virtually nothing” in the way of written policies when it came to FMLA leave for its employees. Prudential had no forms for employees to fill out when they took leave and actually no paperwork whatsoever for employee leave. Because of these incredibly loose policies, Clements was under the false assumption that she could choose between receiving unemployment instead of taking an assignment at another Prudential location. Because of the fact that she was given no notice of her rights for a comparable job upon return from leave, the court determined there were issues of fact that could only be decided by a jury.
Therefore, the Sixth Circuit made clear that companies are required to have clear written policies and procedures that address leave under the FMLA. Specifically, the court held: “Keywell understates the situation when he explains in his deposition that the defendant’s employment policies were “kind of loose.” It seems that there were no policies. In light of this lack of clarity and the failure of defendant to give its employees notice of how to proceed upon completion of leave under the Act, we do not believe that summary judgment for defendant is appropriate.”
If a company has “loose” or even no stated policies when it comes to approved family and medical leave, it will be incredibly difficult for the company to later argue that an employee failed to follow its obligation under the FMLA. Simply put, if an employee on medical leave is not properly informed by their employer of FMLA rights and obligations, the employer has to deal with the future consequences.
If you feel that you are being denied leave rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or are being retaliated against for taking medical leave, you should call the right attorney as quickly as possible to schedule a free and confidential consultation. The phone number to contact an Ohio attorney for FMLA help is 866-797-6040. While you focus on your family medical needs, let our FLMA attorneys focus on your medical leave rights.
The materials available at the top of this medical leave page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “how do I get medical leave under the FMLA?”, “what should I do when my job won’t give me medical leave?”, “can my boss deny me medical leave?”, “what should I do if I was fired in retaliation for taking FMLA leave?”, or “is my employer allowed to…?”, your best option is to contact an Ohio medical leave attorney to obtain advice with respect to FMLA questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.