CWA Takes on Verizon Over FMLA Abuses


CWA has filed a lawsuit charging Verizon Communications with denying workers the rights and protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act. The class action lawsuit covers Verizon workers in Districts 1, 2 and 13.

CWA and individual workers have laid out extensive complaints against Verizon. “Verizon has created a number of arbitrary administrative procedures that it requires workers to follow if they want to be certified for FMLA, but these procedures are not a part of the FMLA law. They shouldn’t be used to deny workers their rightful FMLA benefits, but that’s exactly what Verizon is doing,” said CWA General Counsel Mary O’Melveny.

FMLA provides workers at companies with 50 or more employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for the birth or adoption of a child; care of a spouse, parent or a child under 18 for a serious health condition; care of a child over 18 with mental or physical disabilities, and an employee’s own illness.

Verizon’s policies are a real Catch-22:

  • If a worker followed verbal instructions from the company’s absence reporting center, and those instructions were wrong, though the worker didn’t know it, the claim is denied.

  • If a worker couldn’t file the full report on time, because her doctor was on vacation or unavailable, the claim is denied. If another physician in the same office completed the report, but didn’t spell out the relationship between the two medical providers, the claim is denied. 

  • If information was missing from the claim, for example, the doctor’s office didn’t complete an item, the claim is denied.   

  • If a supervisor makes an error in reporting a workers’ claim, it’s denied.

At Verizon, as far as FMLA is concerned, once a claim is denied twice, a worker loses her FMLA rights.