Do Your Front-Line Supervisors Understand the FMLA or ADA?

If They Don’t, You Are Risking a Lawsuit.

Most human resource professionals can tell you all about the FMLA’s leave requirements, when they are triggered and what documentation is needed. Similarly, they could talk for hours about the ADA’s accommodation requirements, what makes an accommodation reasonable or unreasonable and the importance of the interactive process. The problem comes when employees raise issues that trigger the FMLA or ADA to their supervisor, instead of HR, and that supervisor either ignores the issue or tells them that there is nothing that the company can do about their issue. Many times, supervisors are more concerned with getting their particular tasks accomplished and they need their employees present to do that. Unfortunately, many front-line supervisors’ reactions to potential leave issues are likely to be more concerned with the job at hand and less concerned with the employee or the employee’s situation.

The FMLA and ADA are mandatory laws. They place requirements on employers whenever that employer is aware of a qualifying issue. Further, if a supervisor is aware of an issue, the law deems the employer to be on notice, even if the supervisor never passes the information on to anyone else at the company. If the supervisor does not respond appropriately, the company will likely be facing an EEOC charge or a lawsuit.

All of this can be avoided by training your supervisors on their responsibilities under the FMLA and ADA. If this is something that could benefit your company, White and Williams recently put together a one-hour training program to deal with these issues. The training provides supervisors with an overview of the laws, an explanation of the company’s responsibilities and what can happen if the company fails to fulfill those responsibilities. Finally, they are presented with a number of real-life scenarios and challenged to decide how to deal with those situations.

If you would like more information on this training or any other labor and employment law needs, please contact Jeffrey Stewart (; 610.782.4904) or any other member of our Labor and Employment Group.