FMLA – What is an Equivalent Position?

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In Waag v. Sotera Def. Solutions, Inc., the Fourth Circuit provided some guidance as to what an employer’s responsibilities under FMLA are regarding returning the employee to work. Waag alleged he was not returned to a position equivalent to the job held before his leave.

In the return to work requirement under the Family Medical Leave Act, FMLA states an employee must be returned to the “same position or equivalent position.” In this case, the court indicated Waag did not have to be returned to the same position, even if the position still exists.

The question then becomes what does the word “equivalent” mean? The Fourth Circuit held that Waag’s position after his return from leave was equivalent because the salary was the same; he was eligible for bonuses in both positions; the benefits were the same in both positions; his position title and hierarchy in the company stayed the same: and his primary duties were the same for both.

For help with employment law questions or other civil litigation issues, call Tracy Stroud, Attorney with Colombo Kitchin Attorneys in Greenville, NC, at 252-321-2020.