You’re on Leave — Return Receipt Requested

By Bill Wright

An employee over-extends her FMLA leave and the employer declines to reinstate her.  The employee exclaims that she never knew she was on FMLA – short term disability, sure, but not FMLA.  The employer looks in the file, finds the letter addressed to the employee explaining her FMLA leave, and finds the unsigned form the employee should have returned acknowledging her FMLA status.  Result? Lawsuit.  The Third Circuit recently ruled that, “in this age of computerized communications,” employers should use a form of mail that generates a return receipt when they send a legally required notice.  Otherwise, the employee’s sworn testimony that she did not receive the notice is enough to take the issue to trial.  Lupyan v. Corinthian Colleges Inc., No. 13-1843 (August 5, 2014). The connection between computers and certified mail isn’t clear.  Maybe email makes it more reasonable for people to ignore their U.S. mail.