How serious is it if a HR rep from work falsified dates on my friends FMLA papers before sending it in to the state? I know her doctor wanted her to get a lawyer when he found out about this. Is this a Federal offense?
What dates did the HR rep falsify? If the dates falsified were the dates of your friend’s employment, it could result in her not qualifying for FMLA when she legally should. This is a clear violation of the FMLA and the company could be liable and the HR rep personally liable for the misrepresentation. If, on the other hand, the company falsified the dates of something less significant, such as the dates that the employee was notified of her FMLA rights, the company may still violate FMLA, but it may or may not be liable for the violation, depending upon your friend’s circumstances.
As far as whether the HR rep committed a federal offense, you are probably asking whether he could be criminally prosecuted for this violation. Most likely, no. There is no direct criminal provision within the FMLA law. Generally, criminal sanctions for misrepresentations to the government are pursued only for perjury (making false statements under oath) or making false claims in order to get some sort of material benefit (e.g. money) from the government.
It is illegal to make a material representation to the federal government, but even if the falsified dates are material, it’s unlikely that the federal government will choose to pursue criminal sanctions against the HR rep because it is a fairly small issue and can be dealt with effectively through the FMLA civil sanctions.
Your friend may want to consult an employment attorney that specializes in FMLA in order to make sure her rights are protected, particularly if her eligibility for FMLA appears at risk.