Reduction in Hours Constituted FMLA Interference
An employee whose hours were reduced upon her return from leave could assert violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act by her employer, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Upon returning from FMLA leave, an employee must be placed in the same or an equivalent job, meaning one that is virtually identical to the original job in terms of pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions (including shift and location). In Jones v. Aaron’s Inc., the employee was placed on a reduced hour schedule upon her return from leave, which the employer claimed was at her request. However, it could not provide any evidence to substantiate this claim. The court noted that the reduction in hours was a materially adverse employment action giving rise to an FMLA claim.
This case reminds employers to ensure that employees are returned to essentially the same job under essentially the same work conditions upon a return from FMLA leave. It also warns employers that, to the extent that there are any changes that are based on the employee’s own wishes, it is important to have confirmatory documentation with the employee.