A Social Media Posting can Result in a Lawsuit, Here are Some Examples

In an average month, more than 1.5 billion people worldwide use Facebook, 400 million use Instagram, 320 million use Twitter, and 100 million use Pinterest. With huge audiences like these, it is no surprise that businesses have increased their presence on social media sites over the last several years. These sites help companies identify and target customers and have conversations with them. Businesses reap great rewards from engaging the public this way.

If they are not careful, they can also run into trouble. Like any other business tool, social media present risks. Before businesses can control these risks, they have to know what they are.

Anyone can post content on a social media site in seconds. That makes it very easy to post content to which another business holds the rights, and that can lead to a lawsuit. That is what happened when Fox News Channel posted on their Facebook page for one of its programs the famous photo of firemen raising the American flag at the scene of the destroyed World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The publisher of some New Jersey newspapers owned the rights to the photo and sued for copyright infringement. The court rejected Fox News’s argument that it was entitled to use the photo under the “fair use” provision of the federal copyright law.

Discussions on social media can get heated. When someone posts statements while angry, those statements may cross the line from opinion to defamation.

A Florida company was unhappy with a refurbished machine it bought from an Illinois company. After multiple service attempts resulted in acrimony, the customer left harsh comments on the seller’s Facebook page. Among other things, the post claimed that the seller gave misleading information about the machine’s age; that the representative sent to service the machine was unqualified; that the seller had rebuilt the machine improperly; and that the seller refused to fix the machine. The seller sued its now-former customer for defamation, and a federal court agreed, noting that “the bulk of the statements are objectively verifiable factual statements…”

Sometimes, employees may violate rights of privacy, including that of the business and other employees. An excited employee may publish photos of a colleague’s new baby on the company Facebook page without the parent’s permission. A member of a product development team may brag about the product on Twitter before the company wants the world to know about it. An employee worried about layoff rumors may make posts about how badly the business is doing. Any of these could damage the company, either by subjecting it to an employee lawsuit or by harming its reputation.

To reduce the risks, businesses should develop and enforce social media policies for employees to follow. One person within the organization should have overall responsibility for social media efforts. Lastly, they should consider buying cyber liability insurance for those incidents that may still occur.

Social media is a significant and permanent part of modern marketing strategies. If businesses control the risks, they can use it to help them thrive.

 

How Vehicle Values and Claim Awards are Determined

When it comes to determining a car’s value for insurance purposes, there are several guidelines to help. Vehicle owners and insurers can use books such as Kelley Blue Book to help determine an accurate value. Insurance companies usually refer policyholders to a claims adjuster when they file claims. In addition to verifying the loss, the adjuster will determine the cost to repair the vehicle. This estimate should be used in comparison with a mechanic’s estimate.

A good insurance company or adjuster will not expect a policyholder to sign any form of agreement to pay what the adjuster deems as fair. Agreements are typically made after the policyholder receives one or more estimates from mechanics, compares them to the adjuster’s estimate and makes a decision about whether the adjuster’s amount will cover the necessary repairs. Policyholders should never feel pressured into accepting the adjuster’s estimate when it is not sufficient for covering all necessary repairs.

Insurance companies do not typically tell policyholders where they should have their repairs done. However, they may insist that a policyholder seek more than one estimate to avoid paying a hefty bill and to protect the policyholder from being ripped off. In many cases, price-gouging shops can be identified this way. Policyholders are responsible for seeking out their own estimates and finding a reputable repair shop. When there is more than one estimate given, the insurer often chooses to cover the lowest estimate for repairs. If a policyholder is unsure about that offer being sufficient enough to cover the repairs, he or she does not have to accept it.

Betterment is when a vehicle’s repairs actually enhance its value. When this may be the case, insurance companies usually opt for lower bids and require used or refurbished parts for some repairs instead of new parts. In those cases, the insurer has a legitimate reason for reducing the amount of a policyholder’s claim. However, the insurer will explain this if it is an issue.

It is the insurance company’s job to ultimately decide whether to call the vehicle a total loss or agree to pay for repairs. If the cost of repairs is more than the vehicle’s value, the car will be called a loss. Some policyholders may argue that certain parts of the vehicle were more valuable. If this happens and the policyholder wants to receive a higher amount than book value for the loss, he or she must submit several forms of proof. This includes service history, mechanic affidavits to show added value and mileage records. As a rule, policyholders do not receive more or less than market price for a vehicle that was declared a total loss. To learn more about this topic, discuss concerns with an agent.

 

Data Breach Reports For 2016

The ITRC Breach Report includes information about confirmed data breaches from various media sources and government agencies. Breaches that could lead to identity theft are included on the list.

What Is A Data Breach?

According to the ITRC, a data breach is an incident where any of the following information is put at risk along with a person’s name:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Medical records
  • Credit card numbers
  • Debit card numbers

Also, the ITRC finds data breaches that go beyond this information. For example, they often catch breaches that include a person’s name along with online usernames, email addresses and passwords.

Data Breach Reports

There are two types of reports posted online each week by the ITRC. They provide data about exposure events along with the year’s totals, and more detailed reports are generated each quarter. Breaches are categorized in their reports as one of the following:

  • Business
  • Financial/Credit
  • Medical/Healthcare
  • Government/Military
  • Educational

 

Data Loss And Security Breaches

The ITRC stresses that not all data breaches are alike. In addition to their main categories, they use several sub-categories for classification. All of the categories include exposed personal identifying information that is not encrypted. These are the main categories of data loss tracked by the ITRC:

  • Hacking
  • Insider Theft
  • Subcontractor/Third Party
  • Data on the Move
  • Accidental Web/Internet Exposure
  • Employee Error/Negligence
  • Physical Theft

 

Breach Assessment

When a breach occurs, it is included in the report for the year or previous year in which the breach was publicized. To be published by the ITRC, the breach must have also been published by a radio station, television station or another reliable media source. If the ITRC is not certain about the media source’s credibility, the breach will not be published. Most breaches have multiple sources reporting on them, and the ITRC includes links to all credible reporting sources.  In some cases, the number of records exposed is not included, and the ITRC notes this fact if it applies. For encrypted records, the ITRC notes on the report that they do not consider it data exposure. Files classified as “password protected” are not considered encrypted and are usually included in breach reports.

Quantifying Data Breaches Today

The ITRC is commonly asked if there are more breaches today than there were in the past. Although the organization cannot provide a clear answer, they do tell people that more companies are reporting data breaches than they were in the past. Some companies admit to withholding information about data breaches in the past. With public pressure and more laws today, companies must report breaches. In their opinion, the ITRC also says that thieves seem to be stealing data more frequently today and in larger quantities. However, they emphasize that this is only their opinion based on observations and available information.  Data breaches create major liabilities for companies. To learn more about insurance and data breaches, discuss concerns with an agent.

Group Disability Coverage: Is it Right for Your Business?

The best way to guarantee an income is by getting disability coverage. Once someone cannot work due to disability, there are not many options to maintain current standard of living or to pay for necessary medical expenses due to that disability. Many people put off purchasing disability coverage because they feel it will not happen to them, at least not right away. But if it does suddenly happen, cutting off an income stream can be devastating. Some people think that Government Disability can provide enough income, if one is covered, but in reality Government Disability covers a very minimal amount.

Why Get Group Disability

The last thing an employer wants is an employee hanging on to their job by a thread just to keep their income stream going. Firing an employee is not always an easy answer and can come with legal consequences. Group Disability can help ease a very painful situation, and is also good management because it reduces any potential disruption and risks that can affect the success of a business. Lastly, as a great group benefit to offer an employee, it also helps keep the best employees loyal to the business as it can be seen as more important than a higher salary offered by a competitor.

The Group Underwriting Advantage

Group disability underwriting, depending on the size of a group, can either be more lenient or for larger groups medical underwriting may be waived. Also, in most cases pre-existing conditions are not excluded under a group policy. A group policy may be cancelled as a group, while individual policies may not be cancelled. If a policy is cancelled, there may or may not be replacement options. Group policies also tend to have more favorable pricing than individual policies. However, group policy benefits are taxed, while individual policies benefits are not taxed. You may want to consult with your CPA, though, as there may be options to structure a group policy so that the group benefits are not taxable. Lastly, group policies may not have as rich benefits as individual policies.

Conclusion

Group Disability coverage is a management investment decision and is an excellent choice for businesses that want to minimize risk as well as round out their benefits packages to keep and attract the best employees. In most cases, this costs a fraction of the cost of health insurance and may be the best supplemental benefit a business can offer. Since each business situation is different, it’s best to discuss this with your insurance professional on what available options exist for your business.

 

Protect Personal Finances By Preventing Identity Theft

As each year arrives, millions of Americans plan or hope to increase their income and save more money. The National Crime Prevention Council wants to help Americans work toward those goals and protect the financial security of their future. To accomplish this, they offer a variety of tools for protection against investment fraud and identity theft. The tools are available at NCPC.org, and site visitors will also find a variety of helpful publications with tips for protecting themselves against identity theft, mortgage fraud and investment fraud.

 

According to the NCPC, about 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014. As the year ends and the tax season approaches, there are more occurrences of identity theft. Experts warn Americans to take extra steps to protect themselves during that time especially. However, it is important to make identity theft prevention a regular habit. Identity thieves have several ways to steal information. They may rummage through garbage cans, hack into Internet-based financial accounts or use electronic devices to steal credit card numbers. When they have an individual’s location information, they may even file a change of address form to receive that person’s mail and steal financial information.

 

The NCPC offers the following tips for preventing identity theft:

 

  • Never provide a Social Security number over the Internet or phone.
  • Memorize all passwords, and never store passwords on a computer.
  • When buying items online, always use a credit card for the benefit of being able to dispute bad transactions.
  • Do not use an ATM when someone is within close range.
  • Beware of sites that offer free giveaways and prizes, and do not enter financial information on such sites.
  • Take advantage of developer-based browser add-ons and antivirus software to enhance Internet security.
  • Tell children to avoid giving out their address, phone number or Internet-based contact information.
  • Do not let children plan to meet any friends from Internet sites or chat rooms.
  • Avoid posting public photos of family members, a home, a vehicle or other identifying information on the Internet.
  • Be sure that Internet access at a child’s school is controlled by teachers or other designated responsible adults.

 

The NCPC offers additional tips, information and statistics on their site. If all Americans work together to prevent identity theft, millions of incidents can be prevented. Another important step for adults to take is to check their credit history every year. Each American adult is entitled to a free credit report copy, which is obtained at AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only site approved by federal authorities for obtaining a free copy. View the report to look for any account, address and employment discrepancies, and dispute them if there are any. Suspicious accounts may be a sign that someone has stolen personal information and is misappropriating it.

 

Also, be aware of any odd-looking devices on ATMs, gas pumps and other places where cards are swiped. Thieves place logging devices that detach from these places. If a piece detaches or looks suspicious, report it to the establishment immediately. To learn more about staying safe from identity theft and the impact of identity theft, discuss concerns with an agent.

What You Need To Know About Businessowners’ Policies

Business insurance can get complicated. Businesses need to protect themselves against damage to their property, income they may lose if they have to shut down after their property is damaged, and the risk of lawsuits. With the risks of crime and other types of losses that separate policies cover, there can be a lot to keep track of.

It does not have to be so complicated. Small businesses can meet many insurance needs with a single product – a businessowner’s policy, or “BOP,” as it is commonly known.

BOP packages essential coverages into a single insurance policy. At its most basic, a BOP provides three broad coverages:

Property – insurance on the business’s buildings (if it owns any) and personal property used in the business.

Business interruption – insurance on lost income resulting from a business shutdown following damage to the property or extra costs the business incurs to stay open after the damage.

Liability – insurance covering amounts the business has to pay as damages to settle some lawsuits against it, as well as the cost of mounting a legal defense against those suits.

BOPs offer some flexibility to the buyer, but not the overwhelming variety of choices that individual property and liability policies offer. Businesses can choose between insuring against a “broad” list of causes of property damage loss or “special” causes of loss. The broad form covers only the causes of loss listed in the policy; the special form covers all causes except those listed in the policy. The special form costs more because it covers more.

The business must select the amounts of insurance to purchase on the buildings and personal property. However, it is unnecessary to select an amount of insurance for business interruption coverage. The policy simply pays for the actual loss the business sustains during a necessary shutdown caused by  covered damage to the property.

BOPs typically include small amounts of coverages that would otherwise have to be purchased separately, such as:

  • Loss or damage to valuable papers and records
  • Debts the business cannot collect because of loss or damage to accounts receivable records
  • Income lost when the business must shut down due to an interruption in computer operations
  • Some types of crime losses
  • Clean-up and removal of pollutants

The policy covers the business’s legal liability for bodily injuries, property damage, advertising injury and some types of non-bodily personal injuries to others. Most insurers offer businesses a choice of only three or four amounts of liability insurance.

BOPs may be customized to include other types of insurance, such as for the business’s liability resulting from the use of autos it hires or borrows. However, a BOP is not a substitute for an automobile insurance policy, and it does not cover Workers’ Compensation benefits owed to employees.

To qualify for a BOP, a business cannot exceed a certain size, such as 100 employees or $5 million in revenue. For those businesses that qualify, a BOP is a sensible foundation for their insurance programs.

What To Do With ‘Safe Money’

The first rule of investing is always ‘safety,’ but with inflation hovering around 2 to 3 percent, bank-guaranteed products like CDs and savings accounts are actually losing money net of inflation.

So where can investors find a safe harbor in a storm without taking on too much market risk? Here are some important ideas:

1) Annuities

Annuities come with the advantage of a contractual guarantee. This is what sets annuities apart from investment products: The insurance company issuing the contract takes on some or all of the market risk. If the stock market or bond market crashes, the annuity company is still obligated to fulfill its promises to the annuity holder. No mutual fund, stock or bond can offer that guarantee in writing. This is what sets annuities apart.

Where safety of capital is absolutely required, you may wish to consider fixed annuities which are designed to provide a guaranteed annual rate of return, regardless of market events.

Fixed annuities are appropriate for those who want a guaranteed rate of return on money they won’t need for several years. If you need to guarantee a set minimum amount of income for life or for the joint lifetimes of yourself and another loved one, and you will need the income to begin starting immediately, you may consider a lifetime income annuity. Both of them are guaranteed to deliver as promised, regardless of what happens to the economy or the stock market as long as the insurance company is solvent.

Annuity assets grow tax deferred, as long as you leave them in the annuity. An early withdrawal penalty of 10 percent may apply if you are under age 59½.

For maximum safety, work with your insurance professional to select annuities from carriers with very high ratings for financial stability and liquidity.

2) Bonds

Bonds are simply IOUs from a corporate or government borrower to a lender. While some bonds, usually called “high yield” bonds, come with substantial market risk, many of them come from very solid, established corporations with decades of consistent earnings that are more than enough to cover interest payments, and pay back the loan when the bond matures.

The safest bonds from this perspective are U.S. Treasury bonds which have generally unquestioned credit quality. Because the U.S. Treasury has both the power to tax and to print money to cover obligations, U.S. Treasury bonds are generally considered the gold standard. Bond prices may fluctuate over time – the longer the bond’s duration, the more you can expect the bond price to fluctuate. Scheduled interest payments and the return of capital are assured.

Municipal bonds – those issued by states and cities – feature interest income free of federal taxation. These are popular among individuals in higher tax brackets.

Corporate bonds – Those interested in safety may consider investment-grade bonds. There is an element of risk here so planners look for bonds from companies with long records of consistent earnings sufficient to pay interest and return the face amount of the bond at maturity. In the worst case event  – the bankruptcy of the company – planners look for companies that have solid price-to-book ratios, so that even if the company had to sell all its assets tomorrow, they would be able to raise enough cash to make bondholders whole.

3) Bond mutual funds

These are just mutual funds with many bonds in them. Safety-conscious investors may consider a short-term bond fund for price stability. With mutual funds, there is no single maturity date on which you can expect to receive a specific lump sum. If you need that feature, consider buying a bond.

If not, your advisor can help you construct a diversified portfolio of bonds and bond funds to help you meet your financial needs while keeping risk down.

4) Money markets

Money markets are essentially mutual funds that focus on very safe, liquid, short-term investments, intended to maintain a stable net asset value of $1 per share, no matter what happens to the markets. Money market portfolios typically consist of short-term treasuries, high quality, short-term corporate debt and commercial paper. Unlike CDs, money market funds typically do not come with FDIC insurance but they have historically been very safe places to park cash.

The right safe money investment or combination of investments for you depends on your own individual situation, including your risk tolerance, time horizon and your need for income. To get started constructing the ‘safe money’ portion of your portfolio, contact your agent today.

Employer Penalties For ERISA Compliance Errors See Big Increase

Attention employers: The stakes in your ERISA compliance effort just got higher. The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that the penalties employers face for failing to comply with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act are being adjusted upward, effective August 1, 2016. In some cases, the penalties are more than doubling.

Smart employers will want to take a look at each of these potential violations and ensure they have procedures in place to check for and ensure compliance.

The new penalty rates, quietly announced on July 1stin the Federal Register, are as follows:

  • Failure to furnish statement of benefits to former retirement plan participants and beneficiaries or failure to maintain records for a retirement plan IAW Section 209(b) of ERISA:  Increasing from $11 per employee to $28 per employee
  • Failure or refusal to file an annual Form 5500, IAW Section 502(c)(2): Increasing from $1,100 per day to $2,063 per day
  • Failure of a multi-employer defined benefit (DB) plan to certify endangered or critical status IAW Section 502(c)(2) of ERISA: Increasing from $1,100 per day to $2,063 per day
  • Failure to notify single employer defined benefit plan participants of certain benefit restrictions and/or limitations under Code Section 436, IAW Section 502(c)(4): Increasing from $1,000 per day to $1,632 per day
  • Failure to furnish certain multi-employer defined benefit plan financial and actuarial reports upon request by participant, beneficiary or employee representative, IAW Section 502(c)(4): Increasing from $1,000 per day to $1,632 per day
  • Failure by a plan sponsor or plan administrator of a multi-employer defined benefit plan to furnish estimate of withdrawal liability upon request to participating employer, IAW Section 502(c)(4): Increasing from $1,000 per day to $1,632 per day
  • Failure to furnish of automatic contribution arrangement notice to defined contribution plan participants IAW Section 502(c)(4): Increasing from $1,000 per day to $1,632 per day
  • Failure of Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) to file required report (M-1) IAW Section 502(c)(5): Increasing from $1,100 per day to $1,502 per day
  • Failure to furnish employee benefit plan documents to Department of Labor upon request (including plan and trust documents, summary plan description, summary of material modifications collective bargaining agreement), IAW Section 502(c)(6): Increased from $110 per day to $147 per day, but with a cap of $1,472 per request
  • Failure to furnish blackout notice or notice of right to divest employer securities to participants and beneficiaries in defined contribution plans, in accordance with Section 502(c)(7): Increasing from $100 per day per required recipient to $131  $131 per day per required recipient
  • Failure of multi-employer defined benefit plan sponsor to adopt a funding improvement plan for plan in endangered status (or failure to adopt a rehabilitation plan for plan in critical status), also applies to failure to meet benchmark by end of funding improvement period for endangered plans (that are not seriously endangered plans), as per Section 502(c)(8) of ERISA: Increased from $1,100 per day to $1,296 per day
  • Failure to inform employees of Medicaid/CHIP coverage opportunities, IAW Section 502(c)(9)(A): Penalty increasing from $100 per day to $110 per day, per employee
  • Failure of group health plan administrator to prove state with timely coverage coordination disclosure form for Medicaid or CHIP-eligible individuals, IAW Section 502(c)(9)(B): Increased from $100 per day to $110 per day, per beneficiary or participant
  • Genetic Information Disclosure Act (GINA) violation by a health plan sponsor (Section 502(c)(10)): Fine for violations increased from $100 to $110 per day per beneficiary, if not corrected before notice of violation is received, subject to a minimum of $2,745 per day per participant or beneficiary for de minimis violations, or $16,473 for violations that are not de minimis
  • Failure to provide Summary of Benefits Coverage to participant or beneficiary of a group health insurance plan, IAW Section 715: Fine increased from $1,000 to $1,087 per beneficiary or participant
  • Prohibited payment from a defined benefit plan when the plan has a liquidity shortfall under Section 502(m): Penalty increased from $10,000 per prohibited payment to $15,909

 

These penalties will be adjusted for inflation each year beginning in 2017.

Dog Owners Are Liable When Their Pets Bite

There were over 77 million domestic dogs residing in homes across the United States between 2015 and 2016. This was a finding in a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are over 4.5 million dog bites reported each year. Of that amount, almost 900,000 require medical care, and about 50 percent of those cases involve children. While some insurers will cover most dogs, some will not insure a long list of specific breeds. Dobermans and pit bulls are on many of the exclusion lists. Some insurers do not discriminate by breed and instead determine a dog’s status by individual evaluation.

Dog Owners Are Typically Liable For Bites

If their pets bite guests or people who come on their property, owners are almost always liable for the damages. A dog does not have to be on a list of vicious breeds to make an owner liable in some cases. If an owner knew of a dog’s tendency to bite and it can be proven through records of similar incidents, the owner is liable. In some other cases, the owner is not liable if the dog did not have a known propensity to bite and was not considered a vicious breed. For example, a mellow cocker spaniel biting a person for the first time may not result in responsibility by the owner. However, a pit bull biting a person for the first time would likely result in the owner being held liable. In some states, insurers are not allowed to deny coverage to people with certain breeds of dogs, and they are not allowed to cancel policies if people obtain questionable breeds. However, dog owners are required to buy additional liability insurance in some states if they own certain breeds of dogs. There are three types of laws that put liability on dog owners. They include the following:

  • A bite statute places automatic liability on the owner for any injuries.
  • A one-bite rule places liability on the owner only if he or she knew of the dog’s propensity to bite.
  • Negligence laws place liability on an owner if the owner is careless in controlling the animal.

 

Impact Of Dog Bites

In 2015, dog bite claims made up almost 35 percent of all liability claims among homeowners. The total amount paid by insurers in claims was over $570 million. Although the number of bite claims decreased by more than 7 percent in 2015, the average claim cost increased by 16 percent. The average claim cost in the United States in 2015 for claims of this type was over $37,000. California led the nation in the highest number of claims at almost 1,700 for the year. Claim costs have risen steadily over the past few years, which is mostly due to the rising costs of medical care and the larger settlement awards for lawsuits. Not all claim amounts were attributable only to dog bites. In addition to biting people, dogs also knocked down children and elderly individuals, which resulted in additional injuries. They also knocked cyclists off of their bikes and caused damage to both the cyclists and their bikes. Other factors also increased the severity of some incidents and led to higher claim amounts.  Dog owners can help reduce the number of claims made by being responsible. Keep pets in crates or in a locked room when guests visit or when service workers come to the house. For outdoor pets, provide sturdy fencing and a locked gate. Always display signs that alert people of the dog’s presence. If there is no fence around the yard, keep the dog on a leash when taking it outdoors. To be safe, do not let strangers pet the dog. One incident can be costly and may even result in the dog being put to sleep in some places. To learn more about preventing costly dog bites, discuss concerns with an agent.

FMLA Compliance Update: Dept. of Labor Publishes New Employers’ FMLA Guide, New Poster

There is some good new information for employers out there on Family Medical Leave Act compliance. The recently-released Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act puts everything employers need to know about the FMLA in one handy reference.

The new guide covers administration issues from soup to nuts, including notification, requests for leave, verification/medical certification and return to work. The guide provides employers and HR and payroll workers specific information on how they must handle benefits accrual, leave, exempt vs. non-exempt pay and other important issues.

 

The guide includes a number of useful illustrations and flowcharts that guide the decision-making/compliance process and that provide management with some solid guidelines on what they must do to be in compliance with the law, which generally applies to all private sector employers with 50 employees or more.

 

One useful addition: The section on military family leave – a subject not very well understood by many employers. These are types of leave that military family members may take to help a military family member prepare for deployment (qualifying exigency leave), or leave they may take to assist a family member in recovering from service-related wounds and injuries (military caregiver leave.)

 

You can download the full Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act here.  For more general information on Military Family Leave, see this Department of Labor guide.

 

Poster

In addition, the Department of Labor is shortly to issue a new Family Medical Leave Act notification poster. You can use it in place of the 2013 poster edition (both posters fulfill the notification requirement), or you can keep the old one up, if you prefer. However, all employees must hang this poster prominently in an area where both employees and applicants can easily view it. Covered employers who willfully fail the required Family Medical Leave Act posters and other notifications are subject to a civil penalty of up to $110 per offense.

Employers can download a compliant poster here.

Compliance with the FMLA is mandatory for all covered employers. But compliance can be tricky if you’re not careful, and penalties and sanctions can be severe. Here are some of the common ways employers run afoul of the law.

1.)  Failure to notify the employee (This is where that poster comes in, which serves as a ‘general notice.).

2.)  Counting FMLA leave time against the employee in a disciplinary proceeding, such as a negative counseling statement.

3.)  Penalizing employees in any way for taking FMLA leave.

4.)  Failure to reinstate employees to the same level of seniority and/or responsibility following return from Family Medical Leave.

5.)  Firing the employee while on leave, or upon returning.

6.)  Failure to grant FMLA leave because the employer wrongly decided the condition did not qualify under the act.

7.)  Failure to request medical certifications in writing.

8.)  Failure to allow at least 15 days for the employee to obtain medical certification.

Need more information or help with FMLA or other wage and hour law compliance? Contact the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor at 1-866-USWAGE (1-866-487-9243).