Family and Medical Leave Act

Federal law gives eligible employees the right to take a limited amount of unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. The law prohibits employers from interfering with employees’ FMLA rights or retaliating against employees for taking FMLA leave.

The Family and Medical Leave Act gives eligible employees the right to take a limited amount of unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

“Job-protected” leave generally means at the end of your leave period, your employer is required to return you to your same or a comparable position.

To qualify for FMLA leave, you generally need to have your job for at least a year and work at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months. In addition, your employer must have at least 50 employees.

If you qualify for FMLA, the law entitles you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for any of the following reasons:

  • You have a serious health conditions that makes you unable to do your job;
  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition;
  • To care for a newborn child or newly adopted child;
  • Any qualifying emergency arising out of the fact that your spouse, child, or parent is a covered active duty military member.

The FMLA allows up to 26 workweeks of military caregiver leave, that is, to care for certain service members in your family with serious injuries or illnesses.

Importantly, the law prohibits your employer from interfering with your FMLA rights or punishing you for taking FMLA leave. This generally means that when you return from bona fide FMLA leave, your employer must place you back in your old position or an equivalent position in terms of pay and benefits. If you have group health insurance, your employer is required to maintain that insurance during your FMLA leave.

Here are some examples that might constitute interference with your FMLA rights:

  • Your employer terminates you because you took FMLA leave;
  • Your employer refuses to return you to your old position or an equivalent position when your FMLA leave ends;
  • Your employer refuses to authorize FMLA leave even though you are eligible;>
  • Your supervisor discourages your from using your FMLA leave;
  • Your employer changes your work hours to try to prevent you from qualifying for FMLA leave;
  • Your supervisor uses the fact that you took or requested FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, like hiring, promotions, or disciplinary actions;
  • Your employer counts your FMLA leave against you under a “no fault” attendance policy.

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    If you believe your employer has interfered with your FMLA rights, contact attorney Tim Coffield to discuss your situation.

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