Many Wisconsin employees may be unaware of their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and their supervisors at work may not be clear on what the policies do and do not permit. Staples, the office supply chain, was forced to pay one of its former employees $250,000 because instead of telling him he could take time off to take care of his wife, who was terminally ill, the company had him working from home. The man was fired, and he successfully sued Staples for interference.
On April 8, the Office of Personnel Management officially published the final rule that allows gay and lesbian federal workers in Wisconsin and around the country to take time off to care for spouses when they are ill. The rule changes the statutory language in the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Wisconsin residents may know that the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 entitles most employees working for companies with 50 or more workers to take job-protected time off work when they or a close family member becomes sick. However, the provisions of the FMLA do not cover all illnesses or injuries, and medical conditions must meet at least one of six conditions for the law to apply.
Employees in Wisconsin who take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act should be aware that while they are protected for taking leave, their employers can still discipline them for unrelated reasons. This happened with one woman who was a supervisor. While she was on FMLA leave, some of the people who worked for her complained to management that she spent so much time online that she was unavailable to them.
A recent case involving a nurse with debilitating migraine headaches shows how important it is that individuals understand how the Federal Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, works. The woman in question was suffering from headaches so severe that it prevented her from doing her job. After her employer, a hospital, noticed the amount of time she was taking off work, they suggested that she go on intermittent FMLA leave.
A federal court upheld a decision made by Accentia Health to discharge an employee for posts made to his Facebook account while on leave. The man had been granted 12 weeks of FMLA leave plus 30 days of non-FMLA leave after undergoing shoulder surgery. While on leave, the man had posted pictures of himself swimming in the ocean despite his apparent injury. Fellow employees reported the postings to management.
Most Wisconsin employees have a certain amount of FMLA leave that they may use in a 12-month period. However, there have been cases where the way that employers calculated remaining FMLA leave was not specified in the policy. The Illinois Department of Corrections, for example, fired an employee after claiming that he had too many unexcused absences even though he asked that those absences count as FMLA leave.
Employees in Wisconsin are entitled to take unpaid leave from their jobs if they have a health condition that makes them unable to work. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, an employee can take an unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks a year. When an employee is planning to take medical leave or on medical leave, their employer is legally barred from preventing them from taking medical leave or punishing them for taking medical leave.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for, among other reasons, health issues. However, employers may wonder if they are obligated to keep the employee in his or her job, especially if the employee was about to be terminated. Wisconsin employers who have questions regarding FMLA may be interested in reading about a recent ruling on this issue by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
Workers in Wisconsin may have the right to take leave from work through the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disability Act. Employers whose companies fall under FMLA as well as those with workers who have conditions covered by the ADA are subject to the leave rules.