Verizon Communications, Inc. settled a class action lawsuit with the California Departmen of Fair Employment and Housing for up to $6,011,190.00. The suit alleged that between 2007 and 2010 Verizon denied or failed to timely approve class members' requests for leave for their own serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to bond with a child. The suit was brought under California's version of the FMLA, which is very similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Verizon also agreed to review and revise its leave policies and procedures, and to train all California managers, supervisors and human resource personnel on legally compliant CFMLA procedures. Verizon did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement.
Comment: The settlement undoubtedly does not include Verizon's time and expense in defending the suit, which likely added another million dollars to the total tab.
Like the California FMLA, the federal FMLA allows aggrieved employees to file class action lawsuits for violation of their FMLA rights. Employers would be well-advised to continualy monitor their leave policies to ensure they remain in compliance with ever-changing FMLA laws. As evidenced by Verizon, failure to do so may result in very expensive and time consumming litigation.