Your favorite department store may not be treating its employees fairly. Walmart has been accused of punishing workers who take sick days.
A recent NY Times article reported on a study completed by A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center. The report, “Pointing Out: How Walmart Unlawfully Punishes Workers for Medical Absences,” details Walmart’s “three strikes and you’re out” policy, and how it hurts workers who take sick days.
More than 1000 employees completed a survey and it was found that Walmart routinely refuses to accept doctors’ notes, penalizes workers who need to take care of sick family members, and overall punishes employees for what would normally be lawful absences.
If the survey results are accurate, Walmart is in violation of a few laws that protect workers including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Congress passed the FMLA in order to help employees balance the struggles between work and family life.
FMLA says that an employer must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:
- For the birth and care of a newborn child of an employee;
- For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
- To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
- To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
Under the FMLA, an employer must give an employee notice whether or not an employee’s time off request will be covered by the FMLA. For FMLA to be at issue, the employee must notify an employer in advance that they need to take leave unless the leave is an emergency, in which case the employer must be notified as soon as possible.
An employer may not punish an employee if an employee has an absence that is excused by the FMLA. An employer cannot use FMLA-related absences against employees when it comes to hiring, promotions, or disciplinary actions.
Walmart is covered by FMLA because of its size. Not all employers are covered. To be protected by the FMLA, you must work for an employer with 50 employees or more within a 75-mile radius. If you have questions about whether you are covered, the North Carolina FMLA lawyers at Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC are here to help. Call us at (919) 240-4054 or email us by completing this form. You can also learn more information about our FMLA lawyers.