Some employers are hiring private investigators to spy on workers and find out if they are abusing their time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. There has been an increase recently in requests for time off under the Act, and a number of employers suspect that some workers are taking time off without a valid reason.
Two federal courts have sided with employers in these cases.
In one case, an employee claimed she suffered from migraines, but when her employer followed her, she was caught on camera mowing lawns. The court said that the employer’s use of surveillance was proper if the employer had an “honest suspicion” that the employee was using her time off improperly.
In another case, an employee took time off for a knee injury, but the employer videotaped him doing yard work and getting on a flight to Las Vegas. The court in that case also sided with the employer. However, spying on employees is very dangerous from a legal perspective. Not only could an employer be found to have invaded an employee’s privacy, but it could wind up facing lawsuits for interfering with an employee’s rights to take leave under the Act.