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DOL Official Identifies Common but Easy-to-Fix FMLA Violations

By Kevin Curry, SVP and National Practice Leader, Reed Group Ltd.

Employers take note:  The head of FMLA enforcement for the Department of Labor warned Tuesday that if you have not yet updated your FMLA notices and certification forms to reflect the revised FMLA regulations effective on March 8, you are OUT OF COMPLIANCE right now.   And, any violation of the requirements of the FMLA, including the notice provisions, can serve as the basis for an FMLA interference claim.

Diane Dawson (Branch Chief, FMLA and Other Labor Standards) spoke this week at the annual ADA/FMLA Compliance Conference hosted by Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC).  Diane explained DOL processes, motivations, and triggers for investigations of employer FMLA practices.  This was a rare opportunity for attendees to hear directly from the source why and how the DOL conducts FMLA investigations.  Marti Cardi, Reed Group Chief Compliance Officer, co-presented with Ms. Dawson to provide advice to employers on how to prepare for and handle that DOL knock on the door.  You can access a copy of the presentation here.

The annual ADA/FMLA Compliance Conference hosted by Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) was held this year in Portland, Oregon, on April 15-17.  The conference offered over 20 sessions in all, including topics such as the insource/outsource decision, mental health absence issues, privacy and confidentiality issues leave cases, state leave laws, obesity and the ADA, and much more.  Other conference highlights are described below.

FMLA Nuts and Bolts.  Diane Dawson and Jeff Nowak, author of the FMLA Insights blog, presented a briefing on the FMLA.  Even those familiar with the FMLA gained valuable “insights” (sorry, Jeff) into how the DOL and an FMLA expert view the basics.  Jeff’s post regarding the conference is available on his website.  Jeff also presented another session at the conference on obtaining and reviewing medical documentation for ADA and FMLA requests.

ADA Primer.  Linda Carter Batista, Principal Consultant for the, Job Accommodation Network presented an entertaining ADA session.  She illustrated some of her lessons by comparing ADA accommodation requests to her guests’ special food requests at a neighborhood barbeque (“Don’t serve meat?  It’s not a barbeque anymore!”).

Marti Cardi also offered a popular session on the topic of leave of absence as an ADA accommodation.  Her presentation handout can be downloaded here, and Reed Group’s white paper on the topic is available on the Reed Group website.

DMEC’s next national meeting is the 18th Annual Conference in Atlanta on August 18-21.  Check it out and register online at the DMEC website here.

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