USDOL Headquarters in DC
USDOL Headquarters in DC

Over the years in the employment law “blawgosphere” (isn’t there a better term by now?), I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with and conferring with several other attorneys who blog. One of those is Jeff Nowak, whose FMLA Insights blog has become a go-to place on all

It’s been a big couple of days for court opinions. Today’s turn: FMLA lawsuits.

When we last talked about the FMLA, it was in the context of the fact that sometimes things about the law are bit complicated.

Well, if you didn’t like the intricacies of the FMLA before, this new decision isn’t going

firedAn employee of yours goes out on medical leave. Suppose that you only have to abide by the federal FMLA law.  After 12 weeks, the employee is still out.

Can you simply fire the employee?

Well, the U.S. Department of Labor says “yes”.  Sort of.

As part of a Q&A on the subject, the DOL

trviaI recently was invited the join the “Learned League”, which has been described by the Washington Post as the “coolest, weirdest Internet community you’ll never be able to join.”

Needless to say, now that I’m participating in it, I’m wondering if I’m either cool or weird or both.

The league is a hodge-podge of various people who answer six trivia questions a day for a five week period during various contests.  No money is involved (think: pride not prize) but the competition includes people like Ken Jennings, who is the all-time champion on Jeopardy.

The biggest rule is “no cheating” — in other words, don’t Google the questions. It’s a bit addicting, so in the spirit of the contest, I thought I would provide you with six questions to answer.  Note that this is not multiple choice — rather it’s fill in the blank, which is oh so challenging.

1.  According to the EEOC Charge Statistics for Fiscal Year 2014, retaliation claims were the number one filed claim with the agency.  What protected class was number two?

2. One resource that is (or should be) often referred to by employers when addressing disability issues is nicknamed “JAN”.  What do the letters JAN stand for?

3. The federal Family & Medical Leave Act provides that eligible employees may take up to 12 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for one or more of four separate reasons.  Two of the reasons are for: 1) the employee’s own serious health condition; and 2) tocare for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition.  Name one of the other two reasons?

4. In Connecticut, family violence victims who work at employers that have three or more employees, are entitled to time off for various reasons including seeking medical care or attending court.  How many days per calendar year is the employee entitled to?

5. In 1994, Michael Douglas and Demi Moore starred in a film that, among other claims to fame, brought issues of sexual harassment and “reverse” harassment to the public’s attention. Notably (?), Demi Moore was nominated as “Best Villain” for the MTV Movie Awards.    What was the name of the movie?

6.  The current minimum wage in Connecticut in $9.15 cents per hour.  What will the minimum wage in Connecticut be effective January 1, 2016? (And for a bonus point, what about January 1, 2017?)


Continue Reading Trivia Time for HR Professionals – Six Questions of the Day

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

Last week, I shared my family’s personal story about how cancer has impacted us.  With that in mind, I thought I would share a few tips for employers.  Even if you don’t presently have an issue with an employee, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with some of the rules of the road.

First off, to no one’s surprise, cancer is very likely a “disability” under the ADA.  Even if an employee is in remission from cancer, they can still fall within the statute’s protections as having a “record of” a disability (cancer).

It is so common, that the EEOC has released set of questions and answers to address cancer-related employment issues.  It’s a good starting point for employers when facing these issues.

The ADA strictly limits the circumstances under which an employer may ask questions about an employee’s medical condition or require the employee to have a medical examination. Once an employee is on the job, his actual performance is the best measure of ability to do the job.

One question that the EEOC addresses, for example, is “When may an employer ask an employee if cancer, or some other medical condition, may be causing her performance problems?”

The EEOC does not bar such questions in their entirety.  Indeed:

Generally, an employer may ask disability-related questions or require an employee to have a medical examination when it knows about a particular employee’s medical condition, has observed performance problems, and reasonably believes that the problems are related to a medical condition. At other times, an employer may ask for medical information when it has observed symptoms, such as extreme fatigue or irritability, or has received reliable information from someone else (for example, a family member or co-worker) indicating that the employee may have a medical condition that is causing performance problems. Often, however, poor job performance is unrelated to a medical condition and generally should be handled in accordance with an employer’s existing policies concerning performance.


Continue Reading Cancer and the Workplace: Tips for Employers

The moment when you learn your wife has cancer gets imprinted on your brain in a hurry.

At least for me, it did.

That happened back in February of this year.  I haven’t talked about it on the blog yet for several reasons including that my wife is much more private online than I am.

You won’t find it (at least easily) on the Connecticut Department of Labor’s website.  (The Department’s FMLA page is void of any reference as well.)  

But late last month the CTDOL quietly released new regulations governing FMLA leave rights to school paraprofessionals. 

I’ve asked my colleagues, Jessica Ritter and Henry Zaccardi, to recap the