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The Wagner Law Group

The Wagner Law Group is a nationally recognized practice in the areas of ERISA and employee benefits, estate planning, employment, labor and human resources, investment management and real estate. 

 

Established in 1996, The Wagner Law Group has 28 attorneys engaged exclusively in employee benefits, estate planning and employment law. Six of our attorneys are AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell as having very high to preeminent legal abilities and ethical standards. The firm is among the largest ERISA boutiques in the country. Our practice is national in scope, with clients in more than 40 states and several foreign countries.

 

 

 

 

Contact Info

The Wagner Law Group

 

  Integrity | Excellence

  

Boston 

Tel: (617) 357-5200 

Fax: (617) 357-5250 

99 Summer Street 

13th Floor

Boston, MA 02110

 

Washington, D.C.

Tel: (202) 969-2800

  Fax: (202) 969-2568

800 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

Suite 810

Washington, D.C. 20006

 


Palm Beach Gardens 

Tel: (561) 293-3590
Fax: (561) 293-3591
7108 Fairway Drive
Suite 125
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

   

Tampa

Tel: (813) 603-2959

Fax: (813) 603-2961

101 East Kennedy Boulevard

Suite 2140
Tampa, FL  33602 

 

San Francisco

Tel: (415) 625-0002

Fax: (415) 358-8300

300 Montgomery Street

Suite 600

San Francisco, CA 94104

 

St. Louis

Tel: (314) 236-0065

Fax: (314) 236-5743
100 South 4th Street, Suite 550
St. Louis, MO  63102 

 

 

www.wagnerlawgroup.com

 

 

 

March 1, 2017

 

 Health and Welfare Law Alert

 

 

 

   Federal Court Finds FMLA Retaliation When Employer Revokes Telework Arrangement

 

 

 

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently determined, in Wink v. Miller Compressing Co., that an employer had retaliated against an employee in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA") when it revoked her arrangement to work from home two days a week to care for her autistic child. The employer's decision to terminate the arrangement was based on the mistaken belief that FMLA only covers medical appointments and treatment.  

 

Background. In Wink, an employee was approved for intermittent FMLA in order to care for her autistic son following his expulsion from daycare for aggressive behavior. Specifically, the employee had requested that the employer allow her to use two days of FMLA leave per week in order to work from home to care for her son. The employee's proposed arrangement called for her to track the hours that she worked during the two days, with the remaining hours being counted towards FMLA leave. Although FMLA does not address telework, the employer agreed to the request, and the employee began to work from home without issue.

 

Several months after the employee began to telework, the employer adopted a policy under which employees could no longer work from home. The employer notified the employee about this policy and explained that she would either have to begin working from the employer's worksite or be terminated. When the employee explained that she could not find a daycare provider for her son and was, therefore, unable to report to the employer's worksite, the employer responded that FMLA only provides leave for doctor's appointments and medical treatment.

 

Although the employee began reporting to the employer's worksite, she told the employer she was required to return to home one day per week, during work hours, to care for her son. The employer fired the employee that same day.

 

In response, the employee sued the employer, claiming FMLA interference and retaliation. The jury found that the employer had retaliated against the employee for asserting her FMLA rights and awarded her $120,000. In turn, the employer appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit.

 

Seventh Circuit. The Seventh Circuit held that there was enough evidence to support the jury verdict in favor of the employee's FMLA retaliation claim, explaining that FMLA entitled the employee to take leave necessary to care for a sick child. In particular, the Seventh Circuit commented that the employee had proved, and the jury determined, that the employer had retaliated against her for asserting FMLA rights.

 

Takeaway for Employers. Inadequate manager training is often the cause for employers' FMLA violations. Wink demonstrates the caution that employers must exercise when dealing with employees' FMLA requests, especially those involving telework. To avoid outcomes like Wink, employers must be sure that the managers who administer FMLA receive proper training on the law's requirements.

 

 

 

 

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This Newsletter is provided for information purposes by The Wagner Law Group to clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter, and may not be relied upon as specific legal advice.  This material is not to be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. Under the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered advertising.