A no-fault attendance policy assigns points each time an employee is absent, with corresponding levels of progressive discipline automatically imposed at certain point levels. Employers like these policies because they simplify attendance issues. These policies, however, carry, a certain degree of risk—namely in the handling of absences protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the FMLA or ADA protects an employee's absence from work, an employer would violate the statute by counting the absence as part of a no-fault attendance policy.
- In Green v. Wal-Mart Stores (S.D. Ohio 6/25/13), the district court denied the employer's motion for summary judgment on an employee's FMLA claim because the employer admitted to counting FMLA-days for purposes of progressive discipline under its no-fault attendance policy.
- In July 2011, the EEOC reached a $20 million settlement with Verizon Wireless over claims that the wireless company denied reasonable accommodations to disabled employees by disciplining or firing them pursuant to its no-fault attendance policy.
Employers have a lot to gain from no-fault attendance policies, both in ease of personnel management and certainty in attendance calculations. In deciding whether to adopt or continue a no-fault attendance policy, however, employers must carefully balance those benefits against the risk of FMLA or ADA violations. Moreover, with a no-fault attendance policy in place, employers must be careful to train those responsible for administering the policy with the exceptions required by the FMLA and ADA for protected absences.