Statute of limitations for FMLA complaints

One of the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers in Wisconsin and around the country to give their workers certain notifications, and they may face litigation when they are unable to establish that these required notices were received. One such case involved a supervisor at a Mississippi energy company who took medical leave to care for his ailing father in 2012.

The supervisor had been working at a jobsite in Pennsylvania when he learned that his father was sick, and he was granted medical leave to return to Mississippi and care for him. However, the man became involved in a confrontation with his father soon after arriving, and he was advised by police to stay away. The energy company claimed that it rearranged the supervisor’s schedule and mailed him notices required by the FMLA. His employment was terminated a month later after he failed to return to work.

The supervisor claimed that he did not receive the forms, and he filed a lawsuit in 2014 alleging that his employer had retaliated against him. The claim was dismissed because the supervisor failed to establish that his employer had willfully violated the terms of the FMLA. Workers are generally given two years to file these claims, but they are granted an extra year if their employers willfully or recklessly violated the 1993 federal law. The energy company also argued that the terms of the FMLA did not apply because the supervisor provided no care to his father.

Experienced employment law attorneys who have handled FMLA issues will often encourage employees to keep accurate records of all the phone calls, emails and letters they make, send or receive in connection with covered medical leave. Attorneys may also remind workers that they only have a two-year window to file FMLA grievances and how difficult it can be to extend this legal deadline.


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