Two courts recently handed down decisions* regarding how employers send FMLA notifications, and suddenly everyone is asking, “email or first-class mail?”

Here’s the legal background: the first case involved the sufficiency of mailing an FMLA determination notice via US first class postage. The second case involved emailing a recertification notice. In each case, the employee denied receiving the notice and the court determined, based on the facts presented in the case, that the method of delivery, either U.S. postal service or email, was insufficient.

So, what’s an employer to do? How do you ensure that your notifications are sufficient?

Reed Group’s FMLA administration includes several check points to ensure the employee is getting the information needed and understands what is expected of him or her. For example, our outsourced service offering includes multiple instances, starting at intake, where our team members remind the employee about their rights and responsibilities, or about approaching deadlines or requests for more information. We also re-send documents if the employee notifies Reed Group that he or she didn’t receive something, extending an approaching deadline if needed.

In both of the cases noted above, the employee claimed she hadn’t received the mailed or emailed documentation and therefore her FMLA rights were interfered with. We believe that using multiple checkpoints reduces the risk of a situation similar to either of these court cases ever occurring. Keeping strong, open lines of communication with the employee is the best preventative medicine.

 *The cases are:

Lupyan v. Corinthian Colleges, 761 F.3d 314 (3d Cir. 2014) (first class mail).

Gardner v. Detroit Entertainment LLC dba MotorCity Casino, 2014 WL 5286734, (E.D.MI Oct. 15, 2014) (email).

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