Overview: Employers have a vested interest in enforcing workplace attendance policies and addressing employee absences. When faced with an employee attendance issue, many employers choose to progressively discipline an employee for misconduct. However, in certain instances, employee discipline may pose greater liability for employers.
Specifically, employers with no-fault attendance policies may unwittingly discriminate against employees with legally-protected characteristics, such as employees with disabilities. In addition, enforcing attendance policies for conduct that may be protected under state leave laws may expose employers to regulatory fines and penalties. Employee leave entitlements vary by state, and may be more generous for public employees.
Notwithstanding particular leave entitlements, an employer may still enforce work rules when an employee abuses his or her leave. Proper recordkeeping practices can place employers in a better position when targeted in regulatory audits or when defending court claims with respect to employee leave protections.
Trends: Enforcement agencies have focused on various initiatives targeting employees with disabilities, employees with caregiving responsibilities and employees in the uniformed services and/or veterans. Employers should stay abreast of federal, state and local legal developments related to employee leave protections.
Author: Marta Moakley, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to include forthcoming expansion of state smoking prohibitions in the workplace, including e-cigarette use.
Updated to reflect forthcoming amendments to the Protecting Guardsmen's Employment Act.
Updated to reflect forthcoming discipline concerns under the Workplace Privacy Act.
Updated to reflect retaliation protections under Austin's ban the box ordinance, effective April 4, 2016.
Updated to reflect a Mississippi Supreme Court decision involving a wrongful termination in violation of an employee's right to bear arms.
Updated to include retaliation protections in the Civil Air Patrol Employment Protection Act, effective April 5, 2016.
Updated to reflect forthcoming amendments to the state military leave law.
Updated to reflect the Seattle Wage Theft Prevention and Harmonization Ordinance, which enhances retaliation protections and remedies. See Seattle Wage Theft Prevention and Harmonization Ordinance.
Updated to include employee retaliation protections in the state's forthcoming paid sick leave law.