Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Do you or a family member have a serious medical condition that requires you to take time off from work? Do you need time off for the birth and care of your newborn child? Has your employer taken some disciplinary action against you because you have "too many absences” even with knowledge that you have been out of work sick?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you should be aware of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the obligations your employer has under this federal law.
The FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and all companies with 50 or more employees. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:
- for the birth (or adoption) and care of the child of an employee;
- for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
- to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
- to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
As an employee you are eligible for FMLA leave if you have worked for your employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. If you meet these qualifications, you can be eligible to take up to 12 weeks off from work (for one of the reasons listed above) without fear of losing your job.Do I Have to Take all my FMLA Leave at one Time?
The answer is no. FMLA allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually, either intermittently, in days, weeks or hours, or consecutively.What Happens After my FMLA Leave Ends?
When FMLA leave is over and the employee returns to work, the employee must be allowed to return the same job or an equivalent position that he or she held prior to taking the medical leave.
However, if this does not occur and the employee faces adverse action (such as a demotion or decrease in salary) after applying for FMLA leave, during FMLA leave, or upon his/her return back to work after an FMLA leave, the employer may be engaging in illegal discrimination or retaliation.It is Unlawful for an Employer to Retaliate Against an Employee for Exercising Their FMLA Rights
An employer is prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee or prospective employee for having exercised or attempted to exercise any FMLA right. Thus, an employer cannot use an employee taking FMLA leave as a negative factor in hiring, promotion decisions, discipline or other employment actions. Also, if an employee is terminated soon after returning to work after FMLA leave, this also can be prohibited discrimination or retaliation under the FMLA, if the employee can prove that the decision to terminate was related or connected to his/her exercising FMLA rights.It is Unlawful for an Employer to Interfere With an Employee's FMLA Rights
The FMLA makes it unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise any right or benefit provided by the FMLA.
Examples of prohibited conduct include:
- Refusing to authorize FMLA leave for an eligible employee
- Discouraging an employee from using FMLA leave
- Manipulating an employee’s work hours to avoid responsibilities under the FMLA
- Using an employee’s request for or use of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions, or disciplinary actions
- Counting FMLA leave under “no fault” attendance policies.
An FMLA claim for entitlement or interference is not about discrimination, but instead, whether the employer provided its employees the entitlements guaranteed by the FMLA. Contact us if your employer is making it difficult for you to take a leave under the FMLA.Consult an Attorney and Protect Your Job
If you have been discriminated against because you asked for the time off or if you have been wrongfully terminated for taking deserved time off, you may have a legal claim against your employer.
Leeds Law Firm can help you protect your rights to take a much-needed leave of absence from work without penalty. We understand how difficult it can be to worry about job security when dealing with your own, or your close family member’s serious medical condition.
To learn more about how Leeds Law Firm can help you, contact us for a consultation.