The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) precludes employers from interfering with an employee’s medical leave. Employers, however, frequently need to provide the employee with information regarding the leave, necessary medical paperwork and to request information about the employee’s return to work. Although employers usually provide this information by regular mail, without verification that the correspondence was received, a costly dispute about notice of FMLA rights may arise.
In Lupyan v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc., 2014 WL 3824309 (3rd Cir. August 5, 2014), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employee’s denial that she received FMLA paperwork from her employer gave rise to a sufficient issue of material fact, requiring a jury determination. Because the employer could not demonstrate that the FMLA correspondence mailed to the employee was actually delivered, the employer was unable to obtain a judicial ruling, and instead was subjected to the time and expense of a jury trial.
As a result of Lupyan, employers should strongly consider the methods they use to provide employees with critical notifications such as FMLA leave correspondence. Tracking options, such as certified mail return receipt, hand delivery or carrier, although more costly, can save significant time and expense in the future if such a dispute arises.