Providing incorrect legal information may cost employers

California residents may be interested in a legal case involving an employee and her company, Miller Compressing Company. The circumstances of the case began in 2011 and were affirmed by Seventh Circuit in 2017 in favor of the employee.

The case involved the Family Medical Leave Act and the obligation of employers to follow the law and provide correct benefits and clear information to employees. The employee in the case was granted FMLA and made use of the benefits to care for her autistic son. At first, Miller granted all FMLA leave, including the ability to work from home and get paid for time spent working. In 2012, the company reversed its decision and required the employee to work full-time in the office.

When the employee spoke with human resources, she was given inaccurate information about FMLA leave, being told that it only covered doctor’s appointments and therapy. She was further told that not coming in as required would be considered a voluntary quit. The court upheld that Miller violated the employee’s right to FMLA and retaliated against her for asserting her rights. They further awarded her double damages because Miller provided the employee with inaccurate information on the law.

FMLA is a broad federal law that gives employees the right to care for themselves or sick or disabled family members without facing punishment or job loss from their employer. Since FMLA can be costly for companies, there are many cases wherein a company attempts to restrict or retaliate against an employee for asserting full use of FMLA privileges. An employer may attempt to manipulate an employee by providing them with inaccurate information related to the law. If an employer is limiting or attempting to limit a person’s use of FMLA, they may wish to consult with an attorney for clarification on the law and to ensure their rights are upheld.

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