Wednesday, August 14, 2013

6th Circuit permits employers to enforce reasonable call-in rules for FMLA leave

In Cavin v. Honda of America Manufacturing, he 6th Circuit held that “the FMLA does not permit an employer to limit his employee’s FMLA rights by denying them whenever an employee fails to comply with internal procedural requirements that are more strict than those contemplated by the FMLA.” Six years later, however, the Department of Labor amended the key FMLA regulation that underpinned the Cavin decision. 

That regulation, 29 C.F.R. § 825.302(d) now reads as follows:

An employer may require an employee to comply with the employer’s usual and customary notice and procedural requirements for requesting leave, absent unusual circumstances.… Where an employee does not comply with the employer’s usual notice and procedural requirements, and no unusual circumstances justify the failure to comply, FMLA-protected leave may be delayed or denied.

So, what happens now when an employer has a call-in rule that is more strict than the FMLA? According to White v. Dana Light Axle Manuf. (6th Cir. 8/7/13) [pdf]:

An employer may enforce its usual and customary notice and procedural requirements against an employee claiming FMLA-protected leave, unless unusual circumstances justify the employee’s failure to comply with the employer’s requirements.

What does this case mean for you? It means that you should consider implementing reasonable call-in requirements to help curb FMLA abuse and over-use. If the statute allows you to take advantage of these policies, why not help level the playing field against a statute that, more often than not, favors the employee.