The FMLA and Absence Notification: Is Your Policy Being Followed?

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In order to operate efficiently, many employers have established procedures that employees must follow when reporting that they will be absent or late for work. The federal FMLA provides that employees using FMLA leave must adhere to the employer’s established notice and procedural requirements for requesting leave (absent extenuating circumstances). An employee’s failure to do so can result in the FMLA leave being delayed or denied.
A FMLA interference case against Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. highlights how an employer’s actual practices may trump its written policy when enforcing established call-in procedures relating to FMLA absences.
In the case, an employee was terminated for taking FMLA leave and not calling the supervisor to report the absence as the employer’s policy required; instead, the employee texted his supervisor. Past rulings have upheld terminations where the employee did not follow the employer’s absence reporting procedures. However, in this case, there was a record that the employee communicated via text message with his supervisor regarding being late or absent for work in the past. The case will go to trial.
This case highlights how important it is for employers to ensure their policies are being enforced as written by managers and supervisors in the organization.

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