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Walmart's three-strike policy may violate FMLA

The members of California families depend on each other to provide for their needs and care for them when they are sick. When those two things are at odds, family providers may feel torn, especially if the company where they work is not sympathetic toward their situation. Based on recent reports, it might be safe to say that Walmart is one of those companies. In fact, Walmart's policies may be violating provisions in the Family Medical Leave Act.

The FMLA guarantees up to 12 days of unpaid sick leave to workers at mid-size companies. However, Walmart's attendance policy includes a strict three strikes limit. Each time workers take off for illness or family medical emergencies, they earn a point, and by the time they have two demerits, they are left with the risk of losing their jobs if they need another day off. Eighty percent of Walmart workers surveyed said managers had penalized them for missing work due to a medical emergency.

Apparently, it is routine for Walmart managers to refuse or ignore medical notes, the practice of which prevents the company from determining if such requests for time off fall under protected FMLA guidelines. Workers report that management is stringent about attendance, even refusing to adjust a worker's schedule to accommodate an ill child or parent. Employees also said they feared retaliation if they appealed up the management chain.

Walmart has faced much poor publicity and even lawsuits because of its low wages and allegedly side-stepping FMLA and other federal employment policies. However, no matter where people in California work, there are laws to protect them from unfair labor practices. The assistance of an attorney may be helpful in determining if a particular situation violates those laws.

Source: thenation.com, "Walmart's Sick Scheduling Policies", Michelle Chen Yesterday, July 13, 2017

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