What Does the Family Medical Leave Act Do?
There are certain life events that require all of our attention. The birth or adoption of a child, the development of a serious health condition, and care for seriously ill family members are examples of these situations. While employees may want to take time off from work to handle these matters, some employers deny leave requests and attempt to keep them on the job.
Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), however, employees have the right to take leave for certain reasons. Employers who fail to comply with the FMLA can face liability and serious consequences.
Who Is Covered by the FMLA?
Under the FMLA, you have the right to take up to 12 weeks off of work for a valid medical or family reason. This law applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies that have up to 50 employees.
If you need to take time away from work for any of the following reasons, you can request leave under the FMLA.
The birth and care of a newborn child
The adoption of a child or placement of a child for foster care
The need to care for an immediate family member with a serious medical condition
The need to receive care for a serious medical condition that impacts your ability to work
If you have a family member who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you may be able to take additional time away from work. Spouses, parents, children, and next of kin of service members can request up to 26 weeks of leave per year to care for a service member with a serious injury or illness.
Is FMLA Leave Paid?
Your employer is not obligated to pay for the leave that you take under the FMLA. However, you do retain job protection, meaning that your employer cannot fire you for requesting leave or while you are on leave. Additionally, your employer is required to maintain your group health benefits during your period of absence.
What Happens If Your Employer Violates Your FMLA Rights
As an eligible employee under the FMLA, you have a legal responsibility to provide your employer with proper notice of your intent to take leave. However, employers hold important duties and obligations as well. If your employer denies your FMLA request or retaliates against you for requesting a leave of absence, the company could face serious penalties.
Examples of employer FMLA violations include the following:
- Failure to recognize serious health conditions
- Pretending not to notice an employee’s request for FMLA leave
- Failure to inform employees of their FMLA rights and duties
- Requiring employees to provide excessive amounts of notice for FMLA leave
- Failure to continue group health insurance benefits
- Firing or disciplining employees for taking FMLA leave
- Pressuring employees who are on leave to do work
- Demoting an employee who returns from leave
- Failing to reinstate an employee immediately after the leave
- Disciplining employees who take multiple FMLA leaves
If you believe that your employer is in violation of the FMLA, contact a Syracuse employment attorney as soon as possible. You could file a federal claim or a lawsuit against the company, and your lawyer can represent your case and help you secure the justice that you deserve. After the FMLA violation, contact a lawyer to discuss your case and strategize your next steps.