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 information on an appellate court case regarding the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA).
Updated to include forthcoming amendments to the Volunteer Emergency Worker Job Protection Act.
Updated to include information on a medical marijuana case under state law.
Updated to reflect retaliation protections under the forthcoming Oregon scheduling law.
Updated to include retaliation protections in the forthcoming state Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
Updated to include amendments regarding the smoking of marijuana in the workplace, to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment Act of 2016, and to the Arkansas Whistleblower Act, effective July 31, 2017.
Updated to reflect a law implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana amendment, effective June 23, 2017.
Updated to include forthcoming amendments to laws related to firearms in the workplace.