Is an employee entitled to be reinstated to his or her same position following FMLA leave?

Not exactly.   Under the FLMA, qualified employees are entitled to 12 weeks of leave for a serious medical condition.  At the end of such leave, the employer must reinstate the employee in the position held by the employee at the commencement of the leaver – or – to an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.  In Waag v. Sotera Defense Solutions (May 2017), the Fourth Circuit considered the case of of a program manager who required FLMA medical leave after an accident.  During his absence, the company moved forward by filling the program manager’s position.  When he sought to return to work, they re-assigned him to a different role without changing his pay structure.  In finding the re-assignment to qualify as an equivalent position, the Court considered the fact that  (i) both positions were paid the same salary and benefits; (ii) both positions were senior director positions that required plaintiff to report to a vice president; and (iii) neither position included significant managerial responsibilities.  In sum, the Court emphasized that restoration “does not indicate a preference for restoring covered employees to their pre-leave positions over ‘equivalent’ positions, and it does not require an employer to hold open an employee’s original position while that employee is on leave.”

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