“FMLA interference related to association with disabled family?”

FMLA interference not limited to physical disabilities.

FMLA interference is not limited to the physically disabled.

FMLA interference can occur when an employer discriminates against its employee because the employee is associated with a disabled family member What EEOC says about associational discrimination which is often tied to FMLA leave. Often that member is their spouse or life partner. Sometimes a child or children or even parents.

It was only 2 years ago that our Second Circuit Court of Appeals addressed this rarely litigated claim. That case was Graziado v. Culinary Institute of America, 817 F.3d 415 (2nd Cir. 2016). One of the more interesting aspects of that case was that the Court found that an individual employee of the Culinary Institute could have a duty to the fired employee and could therefore be subject to individual liability under the FMLA.

Employees asking for FMLA leave usually do not know their rights. The Family Medical Leave Act imposes duties on employers to inform employees, in many instances in writing, of employees’ statutory rights.

These cases often involve an employee who associates with or cares for disabled family. It could be the employee and their spouse or an employee with several disabled family members or a combination of costly claims including the employee’s. Although many employers rarely know how to handle these complex fact scenarios they have a duty to get it right.

Some human resources departments are better than others. Some are remotely located. Others do not even exist.

But the Courts apply the duties as they are written and any employer who fails to comply does so at their own peril. Damages for FMLA interference compounded by associational discrimination in violation of the ADA can include emotional distress and punitive damages for willful violations. This type of discrimination does not even require the interactive process because no employer has to accommodate the disability of a family member, even if such member is unable to care for children. However, employers get this wrong because they fail to recognize that although an accommodation is unnecessary unless the employee her or himself is disabled, no employee’s FMLA rights may be lawfully interfered with.

Urba Law PLLC works with employees whose FMLA rights have been interfered with, and sometimes on behalf of employers covered by the FMLA, to work through these potentially very costly issues.

Please feel free to give us a call Contact details for Urba Law PLLC. Disabled employees and their families are priorities in New York State. They should be. And if we decide that we can provide the legal services you need and you feel comfortable with us, we will fight to protect your rights when the facts supporting your claim or defense are on our side.

This is a growing area of the law. It is one where more training and skills are needed from employees as well as employers. SCOTUS not ready to decide this split yet. Human resources professionals sometimes struggle with this issue as they do with exempt versus non-exempt status of salaried employees who work overtime and whether such employees are entitled by law to extra pay. Don’t assume your salary excludes overtime pay.

The CHRL is New York City’s Human Rights Law.  It is even more comprehensive than federal and state laws in protecting the mentally and physically disabled.

Call V. Jonas Urba at (914) 366-7366 for a confidential consultation to discuss your options. Jonas will only ask you to come in if your facts appear to support your potential claim or defense.