What Employers & Employees Should Know About Using FMLA for IEP Meetings

In my last blog, I discussed the 2019 United States Department of Labor opinion explaining that parents can use their FMLA time in order to attend IEP meetings for their children. I explained why this was important for parents to know and I explained who would be eligible for FMLA. This blog explains what employers should know about allowing employers to use FMLA for IEP meetings and what employees should know if they feel that their rights are violated. 

Employers and FMLA

What should employers know about allowing parents to use FMLA time to attend their children’s IEP meetings? First, employers should train managers and Human Resources staff about this opinion from the Department of Labor so that their staff does not inadvertently and wrongly deny these requests from their employees. Employers should treat requests to use FMLA to attend IEP meetings similarly to how they would treat any other requests for intermittent leave under FMLA. Employers can request documentation to demonstrate that an employee’s child does have an IEP to support the employee’s request to take FMLA time to attend IEP meetings. Employers do not, however, need to request specific documentation with language demonstrating that parents must attend these IEP meetings. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) specifically lists parents as the first members of an IEP team.

For employees: if you feel that your rights have been violated, what should you do? If you feel that you have been wrongfully denied your ability to use FMLA time to attend your child’s IEP meetings, consider these two courses of action.

Filing a Complaint over FMLA Time

The first course of action: You can file a complaint with the Secretary of the United States Department of Labor. The second course of action: you can file a private lawsuit. If you choose to file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor, remember to do it in a timely manner. You can find out how to file that complaint by going on the United States Department of Labor website. Some good things to cover in your complaint: when you filed your request, who you talked to about your request, what the response was to your request (if any), and any other information that you feel is important. You might also consider including copies of any documentation you may have, such as the documentation you submitted with your request, the actual request you submitted, and any email correspondence that you may have. 

Filing a Private Lawsuit

If you want to file a private lawsuit, the first step is finding a lawyer that is right for you. When looking for an attorney to represent you, it may be helpful to bring the same information that you would include in a complaint to the Department of Labor. All that information may help you have a fruitful discussion with potential attorneys. For a private lawsuit, the statute of limitations is generally two years, unless the denial was willful, in which case, the statute of limitations could be three years.

Stephanie Woodward is a proud disabled person, an attorney, and the Brand Ambassador Advisor for Quantum Rehab. While Stephanie is an attorney, she is not your attorney and this blog should not be construed as providing legal advice. 

About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.

For more great blogs from our brand ambassadors and Q Roll Models, visit lifeatilevel.com today!


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