Case Law Alerts
An employer’s workers’ compensation benefits and light-duty accommodation do not obviate its duty under the FMLA to provide notice of an employee’s right to take FMLA leave.
Returning from a few days off due to a work-related injury, the employee was required by her employer to undergo an essential function test, which she failed. Therefore, the employer discharged the employee. The employee filed suit under the FMLA for interference with her rights.
The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer based upon its compliance with its workers’ compensation responsibilities. The 11th Circuit held that the FMLA “does not set up a clash of Titans between itself and workers’ compensation,” and it vacated the entry of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. The court noted that once the employer was on notice that the employee qualified under the FMLA, it was required to provide notice to the employee of her eligibility for and rights under the FMLA within a certain timeframe. See 29 C.F.R. § 825.300.
The 11th Circuit held that an employer cannot exempt itself from its FMLA notice obligations by offering an employee workers’ compensation benefits. Furthermore, employers offering of a light-duty position (and an employee’s acceptance) does not constitute a waiver of an employee’s rights under the FMLA as the employee must have the ability to decide between light-duty or taking unpaid medical leave under the FMLA.
Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2021 is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2021 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.