Court Finds Genuine Issue of Material Fact Where Employee Terminated Same Day She Returned From FMLA Leave
If you're receiving long-term disability benefits but still engaging in physical activities, you should expect to be placed under electronic surveillance at some point by your disability insurance carrier. Your carrier may then use the video footage as a basis to terminate your disability benefits. If an administrative appeal of the benefit termination is not successful and suit is brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the surveillance video is a piece of evidence the judge would look at to determine benefit eligibility under the policy.
Employer Interfered With Employee's FMLA Rights By Failing To Respond To Her FMLA ApplicationThe plaintiff submitted an FMLA request to the Police Chief on January 16, 2006. Included with the request was a certification from her physician, one of the documents typically required for an FMLA request. Plaintiff contacted the Police Chief’s office eight days after submitting her request to inquire into the status of her request. She was informed that the request had been received. About two months after submitting the request, the plaintiff still had not received an answer. She contacted the employer’s human resources department. Human resources told the plaintiff that their department had no record of receiving her FMLA paperwork. The plaintiff again contacted the Police Chief’s office and was told that the form was “stuck in legal.” The Police Chief’s office said they would get back to her with follow up information, which they never did. In April 2006, three months after submitting her FMLA request, and without ever receiving an answer regarding that request, the plaintiff was terminated. The employer argued to the court that it did not have sufficient information to make a determination about whether the leave would be designated as FMLA leave. The court disagreed. It should be noted, also, that the employer never argued that it had sought additional information from the plaintiff or her spokesperson (parent, child, spouse, doctor, etc). The court found that by failing to respond to the plaintiff’s request for three months, the employer had interfered with the plaintiff’s FMLA rights. Under the Department of Labor Regulations, an employer is required to let an employee know whether leave will be counted as FMLA approved leave within five days after having enough information to determine whether the leave is FMLA-qualifying. Where an employer does not have sufficient information to determine whether leave is FMLA-qualifying, the employer should inquire further of the employee or her spokesperson to obtain the additional information.
Lately the question of whether a long-term disability carrier can offset Social Security payments to a dependent has been a popular one. Most claimant's are aware that their LTD plans offset Social Security benefits awarded to the disabled individual, but most plans also offset the SSD benefits paid to the dependents or spouse of the disabled individual as well, if those benefits result from the individual's disability. As always it is important to read your plan documents carefully.