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Wisconsin county has issues with FMLA administration

Records for Milwaukee County indicate that approximately 20 percent of its employees used the Family Medical Leave Act to take time off during 2013. The law enables employees to take unpaid leave for issues such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for an ill family member without negative job consequences. While this ensures job protection for the individual who needs extended time off for such reasons, his or her employer may have trouble with filling the position during the absence.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division stated that Milwaukee County showed certain patterns of violations with its FMLA administration. For example, many of those who took time off through FMLA were written up on attendance issues. Untimely responses to FMLA requests were also identified. Negative attendance reviews and related disciplinary actions also stemmed from the county's failure to seek renewals for leaves in some cases, opting to deny further leave instead.

Efforts were being made to update the administration of FMLA benefits in the county government as of July 2014. However, much of the management is handled by paperwork through mail or via fax. This can result in consequences to workers as missing documents can lead to poor attendance marks when leave has actually been approved.

A worker who is dealing with a valid family issue that requires time away from work and who has been denied leave may want to review a request with a lawyer who understands FMLA. Legal counsel may also be helpful to a worker who has been unfairly disciplined in connection with FMLA.

Source: Journal Sentinel, "Agency scrutinizes family medical leave in Milwaukee County", Georgia Pabst, July 15, 2014

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