Train Your Managers on the FMLA, or You're Courting Trouble

A court used lack of Family and Medical Leave Act training to award double damages

 

When a manager learns that one of her employees is in the hospital for several days, that's almost always enough information for the employer to have an inkling that the employee may need Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.

But one employer didn't think so. And the penalty for its mistake was costly. Let me explain.

The Facts

Grace worked for the Center for Human Development (CHD) in western Massachusetts. On a moment's notice, she became hospitalized due to a mental health condition. Upon her admission to the hospital, Grace asked her son, Jim, to call CHD to report that she was in the hospital and unable to report to work.

Being the good son he was, Jim called CHD that same day. And the next day. And the day after that.

Not only did Jim talk to his mom's direct supervisor . . . but his boss . . . and the boss's boss. Each time, he made clear that his mom was ill, in the hospital and could not come to work. After a few days, Jim shared that his mom could speak, though she was "unintelligible."

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