Why are FMLA Lawsuits on the Rise?

Family Medical Leave has been around for a while now, but the Administrative Office of the US Courts just released a report stating that there was a 26.3 % rise in Family Medical Leave Act lawsuits in 2014. There may be a number of reasons for this rise. So what should you do if you are an employer dealing with Family Medical Leave requests and what should you do if you are an employee that feels like you have been wrongly denied your FMLA? Well, here are some suggestions and tips to keep in mind for employers as well as employees. If you have more questions or feel that you may have a FMLA case, then you should speak to one of our FMLA lawyers with the Higgins Firm. We will work with you to make sure your rights are upheld.
It is important to first discuss the many reasons why these cases may be on the rise. One of the main reasons for the increase is because the laws around Family Medical Leave are becoming more well known and the Department of Labor is also expanding the law to include same-sex couples. So, it makes sense that if more people know about the law that more people will use it. The second reason is that Family Medical Leave is defined as a “serious health condition”. This is very vague and therefore, many employees with chronic conditions may find it easy to request and be given the leave.

Many medical professionals also seem very willing to offer certification to employees requesting intermittent FMLA leave even if the reason is not very clear. Also, once an employee receives certification for FMLA, it often becomes easier for them to take the leave for a day or two if they just want a day off because they will not face consequences for that time. Finally, lawsuits may be increasing because many employers may not fully understand the FMLA laws and their requirements. It is important for employers to learn about the laws so they do not fail to realize when an employee may legitimately need the leave. This will help to avoid violations and thus more lawsuits.

So, now that you know the many possible reasons behind the rise in FMLA lawsuits, what should employers and employees do? It is important that employers remember not to ignore their obligations according to FMLA laws. If you as an employer feel that an employee’s application and doctor’s note for the leave are unclear, you are allowed under the law to ask for more information before granting the leave. The employee then has to follow up and respond to this request. If the leave becomes certified, employers are allowed to monitor how often the leave is used. If more than was requested is being used, you have the right to request recertification.

It is important that both employees and employers educate themselves about FMLA laws and know what is expected of them. If you are an employer and feel like FMLA is being abused or if you are an employee and feel that you were denied the leave you need or faced retaliation after taking your leave, then we recommend that you talk to one of our  Tennessee Family Medical Leave Act attorneys with the Higgins Firm. We can answer any questions you may and help to determine if you may have a case.
Feel free to contact us online or by calling 800.705.2121 to discuss your legal options.

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