Corporate Officers May Be Individually Liable For Violations Of The Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) took effect more than six years ago, but continues to trouble employers. The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees. While businesses struggle with the broad interpretations of the Act, employees and plaintiff’s lawyers are becoming more and more familiar with its protections. Of further concern, corporate officers “acting in the interest of an employer” may be individually liable for any violations of the requirements of the FMLA.

Generally, the FMLA requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave that may be taken:

  • Upon the birth of the employee’s child;
  • Upon the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  • When the employee is needed to care for a child, spouse or parent who has a serious health condition; or
  • When the employee is unable to perform the functions of his or her position because of a serious health condition.

To be eligible for the leave, an individual must have been employed by a covered employer

  • For at least 12 months by the employer from whom leave is requested
  • For at least 1250 hours of service during the 12 months prior to the start of the leave; and
  • At a worksite where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius.

The regulations provide extensive definitions, terms, standards and conditions. The obligations imposed on an employer are numerous. They include job protection, posting requirements and employee notice requirements, to name a few. If your business may be covered by the FMLA you should seek legal advice to ensure compliance with the Act.