Can you delay designating paid leave as FMLA leave?

The Department of Labor issued an opinion letter today regarding the FMLA and whether an employer may delay designating paid leave as FMLA leave or permit employees to expand their FMLA leave beyond the statutory 12-week entitlement (26 weeks for military caregiver leave). The answer is "NO" on both questions. An employer may not delay the designation of FMLA-qualifying leave, even if the employee would prefer that the employer delay the designation. Additionally, an employer may not designate more than 12 weeks of leave (or 26 weeks of military caregiver leave) as FMLA leave.

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EEOC Is Going Paperless - Please Contact Them to Assign a Designated Email Recipient

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is now sending Charges of Discrimination via email.  If there is a charge filed against your municipality, the EEOC will send a Notice of Charge to the municipality’s representative as designated in the EEOC’s computer system.  The EEOC might obtain this email address from the Charging Party, or may obtain it from past email communications with the municipality.  If the EEOC does not have the correct designated representative in their system, it could result in a random employee receiving the notice of the Charge of Discrimination. To verify who the EEOC has listed as your municipality’s representative, please mail, email or fax the name of the municipality and the designated representative, along with the job title, mailing address, email address and telephone number of the designated representative to:

Adrian McDaniel, EEOC Supervisory Investigator
215 Dean A. McGee, Suite 524
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
fax number (405) 231-4911

Because there is a very real possibility that a random employee could receive the Notice of Charge, you should instruct all employees to immediately contact the Human Resources Director, City Manager or Mayor (whichever applies to your municipality) if they get an email from the EEOC.  Also, you should advise all employees to refrain from downloading the Charge and to keep any information received by the email as confidential.

The filing of an EEOC Charge is the first step to an employment lawsuit.  The response to the EEOC charge is critical because it lays the foundation for a successful defense of the lawsuit. The consequences of a sloppy, ineffective or inaccurate response can cost thousands of additional dollars in legal expenses and can lead to the admissibility of findings and determinations made by the EEOC at the trial level.  

For these reasons, EEOC Charges of Discrimination are covered under OMAG’s Municipal Liability Protection Plan (MLPP).  If your municipality receives an EEOC Charge, please forward it to OMAG at claims@omag.org or directly to our Legal Department at spaulson@omag.org or mlove@omag.org.

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Religious Expression in the Public Workplace

As workplaces continue to become more diverse, religion in the workplace is becoming a significant issue.  Employees of diverse backgrounds may request accommodations to practice daily religious activities.  Employers may not discriminate based on religion, must reasonably accommodate religious beliefs and practices, and must protect other employees against the unwelcome religious behaviors of their co-workers or managers. 

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