Employment-Sixth Circuit Rules That An Employer May, Without Violating the FMLA, Enforce Its Procedure for Informing The Employer Of An Absence

In Srouder v. Dana Light Axle Manufacturing, LLC, No. 12-5835 (6th Cir. 2013), the plaintiff, Matt White (“White”), appeals from the district court’s order granting summary judgment to White’s former employer, defendant Dana Light Axle Manufacturing, LLC (“Dana”).

In this case, during his employment with Dana, White had problems with his attendance and with obtaining proper medical certifications for various absences he claimed were protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Eventually, White developed a hernia that required surgery. Dana terminated White’s employment for his failure to follow the call-in requirements of Dana’s attendance policy. White sued Dana, alleging interference with his rights under the FMLA.

In analyzing the case, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (the “Court”) said that the applicable regulation under the FMLA expressly permits an employer to enforce its “usual and customary notice and procedural requirements for requesting leave,” 29 C.F.R. § 825.302(d), even if those requirements go beyond FMLA minimum notice requirements, unless there are unusual circumstances (and there were none here). White did not follow Dana’s procedural requirements in connection with his absences, namely, he did not follow the call-in requirements. This allows Dana to terminate him without violating the FMLA. Therefore, the Court concluded that White’s claim fails, and the Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Dana.