FMLA and Unemployment Compensation

Situation: A longtime, valued employee went out on FMLA for a medical problem. Shortly after going out on FMLA our company had a layoff of 25 employees. We included the FMLA employee in our laid off list, primarily to help him out financially, since he would be out of work for longer than the 12 weeks allowed by FMLA. Although he couldn't do any heavy lifting, he could still do clerical/administrative work, which made him eligible to look for a job IAW DoL criteria.

Question: What are the legal ramifications of my actions? Does anyone have any information pertaining to being laid off while on FMLA? Have I opened up Pandora's box?


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  • I have run into this on several occasions and have told the individual to be honest with UC. We do not dispute the claim and if, for some reason, the UC office determines that they are not eligible, I talk to them (the UC office) and explain that they would be laid off regardless of their ability to work. To my knowledge they have received the benefits.

    The one thing I would caution is to audit your weekly statement from UC to ensure someone is not collecting benefits when they shouldn't. I once had an instance with an employee that was on layoff, got called back to work and three days later the union went out on strike. The weekly statement wasn't making it to my desk (my former boss was filing it without looking at it) and when one did finally get to my desk, I found that this individual was still claiming UC. I called and infomred them of the situation and the employee ended up having to pay back over $1,200 of benefits!!
  • We just laid off an employee who is on FMLA recovering from the birth of a child. Her position was eliminated in a formal RIF program that has been in the planning stages for awhile. I advised her, as I did the others, to go down and file for UI this week and present their RIF letter as evidence of why they are out of work. I told her also that the discussion between her and the claimstaker regarding "able and available", is between the two of them. Her job would have been gone with or without the FMLA event or childbirth.
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