How Do I know If My FMLA Rights Have Been Violated?
The Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA is a federal law that gives eligible employees the right to take time off for caretaking responsibilities and health problems without risking possible termination by their employers. If an employer refuses to acknowledge and accept their FMLA leave and/or terminates them because of the FMLA submission, the employee may sue in violation of the FMLA Act.
According to the U.S Department of Labor,
“The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.”
Keep in mind that FMLA applies to:
“all public agencies, including state, local and federal employers, local education agencies (schools), and private-sector employers who employed 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including joint employers and successors of covered employers.”
In order to apply for FMLA leave, the employee must have worked for over one year at his or her workplace and worked at least 1250 hours before their leave. But not every illness or situation is covered by the FMLA. Below are legitimate reasons for FMLA leave:
- A birth, adoption, or foster care of a child
- Pregnancy leave if under serious health risks
- Parental leave after childbirth
- Worker’s own serious health condition
- Medical leave to help a family member with a serious health condition
- Caring for a family member who was injured/ill while on active duty in the military
- Family military exigency leave due to a family member’s deployment
So… what are examples of violating FMLA rights?
- Failure to inform employees of their rights under FMLA
- The employer discontinues insurance while the employee is on FMLA leave
- Employer demands to meet with the employee’s doctor for questioning
- An employer counting an employee’s FMLA leave as excessive absences in performance evaluations
- Employer attempting to prevent your FMLA leave by doubting and harassing an employee for further documentation and telling them they are not entitled to any time
- Employer forcing an employee to use all of their FMLA time at once
- If the manager allows the FMLA leave but warns their employee that they could lose their job if gone too long
- Employer demanding too much notice
- When an employer fires an employee on FMLA leave due to the FMLA leave.
- Management can not pressure employees on FMLA leave to ending their leave early.
- If the manager denies his/her employee a promotion due to your FMLA leave
- Demoting an employee after his or her FMLA leave.
Common questions from employees about FMLA rights:
Q: I began my job about two months ago and now very sick with severe strep. I was told yesterday that I needed surgery and I would not be able to work for two weeks. Yet when I went to tell my manager, they fired me.
Q: I was recently fired from my supervisor while I was on FMLA leave waiting for surgery. Do I have a case?
A: Yes and No. It all depends why exactly you were fired. If the reason was due to your FMLA leave then yes he/she violated your right. However, if your manager fired you for lawful reasons not related to your FMLA while you were on FMLA then no. Overall you should contact an employment lawyer for a more detailed analysis.
Q: Can my employer refuse to accept my doctor’s medical certification because it was not an official FMLA form?
A: It does not matter if your medical certification was written on a provided form or on a notepad or even napkin. What is important is the doctor’s note signature and note verifying employe’s medical condition. So no your employer cannot refuse your document if it contains all the necessary information.
Q: Is my boss required to pay me while I am on my FMLA leave?
A: No your boss would not be required because FMLA is not another form of typical paid Sick Leave.
This article provides just several examples of the types of FMLA violations. But the truth is that there are many other types of ways employers may violate the rights of employees who take leave under the FMLA. If you or a loved one is concerned that their rights may have been violated, you should consider reaching out to an experienced employment lawyer for further and more detailed analysis.
We hope this helps
Whether you are entering the job market for the first time or were recently terminated, it is important to understand your rights as a worker. Both federal and state governments have enacted a wide range of employment laws protecting employees from discriminatory treatment, unfair labor practices, unsafe work conditions, and more. Employment law governs the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees. Most of the laws and statutes that fall under employment law are meant to protect the employee from unfair and unsafe working conditions, but they also help to protect employers.
Working environments can be chaotic and complex. The law offices of Jones Brown wants to make sure you are aware of your rights as an employee or employer. If you feel you have been wrongfully treated at work or on a job, our experienced attorneys know exactly what to do. CLICK HERE to contact Jones Brown PLLC.