When an employee takes leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the employer is supposed to quickly provide him or her with certain notices. These may include an “eligibility” notice, a “rights and responsibilities” notice, and a “designation” notice.
Although these notices can be somewhat technical, they’re strictly required to protect your rights.
The Wackenhut Corporation found this out the hard way when Jacqueline Young took 12 weeks of FMLA leave. Once her leave was over, she continued to be absent for another two weeks, after which Wackenhut fired her.
Wackenhut had provided an explanation of the scope of workers’ FMLA rights in its employee handbook, and it had also posted the Department of Labor’s FMLA poster in the workplace. However, it apparently didn’t specifically provide Jacqueline with the “eligibility,” “rights and responsibilities,” or “designation” notices when she went on leave.
Result? A federal court in New Jersey said Wackenhut couldn’t legally complain, and the firing was against the law.
The ruling emphasizes that it’s not enough to have a verbal understanding with workers who take leave, or to provide general explanations. You must follow the letter of the law to fully protect yourself.