If you need time off for the birth of a child or for treatment of a serious medical condition, your job may be protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Unfortunately this important Act doesn’t cover all employees but if you have worked for a large employer (50 or more employees) for one year or more, it might cover you and allow you to take important time off of work without being fired. Contact Siro Smith Dickson for more information.
Overview of the Family and Medical Leave Act
The law requires employers to provide employees with unpaid leave from work under certain circumstances. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers employees who work for an employer with 50 or more employees so long as those workers all work at locations located within a 75 mile radius of one another. Under the FMLA, employees may receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per calendar year.
In order to qualify for FMLA protected leave, you must have been an employee for at least one year and worked a minimum of 1,250 hours.
While an employee is on approved leave, the employee’s health, dental, and vision benefits must be maintained, although you may be required to pay the full cost of those benefits during the time you are on leave, including the portion of the cost that your employer typically pays on your behalf. Your employer may also require you to use your paid sick or vacation leave during the time you are away from work. An employer is not allowed to retaliate against an employee for taking protected leave. When you return, your employer must provide you with the same or a similar position that you held before you took leave.
You may qualify for a protective leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act if:
- You need to take time off to care for the serious medical needs of yourself or certain family members
- You are pregnant, recently had a baby, adopted a baby, or are placed with a child in foster care (this is commonly referred to as “maternity leave” or “paternity leave”
You may have been denied a protective leave of absence under the FMLA if:
- You need to take leave for one of the reasons listed above, and your employer denies your request.
- You return from your leave, and your employer refuses to give your job back.
- You are harassed, denied a promotion, or fired because you used or requested any of the benefits listed above.
- Your employer fires you or reduces the number of hours you work so that you will not qualify for leave.
- Your employer has a policy—either official or unofficial—that employees are not supposed to take leave for any reason.
NOTE that many individual states have similar protections to the FMLA. Moreover, it may be that your situation qualifies for protection under federal or state disability discrimination laws, as the rights of workers with limiting health conditions have been greatly expanded in recent years.
If you think you have been improperly denied medical leave or otherwise discriminated or retaliated against due to a medical condition or the medical condition of a family member, please contact one of the experienced Family and Medical Leave Attorneys at Siro Smith Dickson PC.
FEATURED FMLA CASE
The firm settled a case brought by an employee against his employer for violating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Plaintiff claimed that the employer failed to give him his job back when he returned from a hospitalization and recovery from heart bypass surgery. The employee was fired the day he returned to work from his FMLA protected leave, even though he had been an effective, successful employee before he got sick. Plaintiff was prepared to prove that the firing violated his FMLA rights to get his job back on his return to work within the 12 week protected leave period.