Mansour Law, LLC Makes Sure Employers Respect Your FMLA Leave
Sometimes we find ourselves battling a serious medical condition that needs our utmost care and attention. Other times, our family members need our help in caring for their own serious medical conditions. These can be stressful situations that often prevent us from performing our jobs.
That is why the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) requires many employers to provide unpaid leave to certain employees. Under the FMLA, you may have a right to take a leave of absence from work to care for your own serious medical conditions or those of certain family members. You may even have a right to take unpaid leave to give birth or care for a newborn child. The best part is, under the FMLA, your job will be protected during this period of leave.
If your employer is denying you the right to take FMLA leave, or if your employer has retaliated against you for using or requesting FMLA leave, CONTACT MY FIRM, Mansour Law, LLC, online or call 610-936-6863 for a FREE CONSULTATION. My team is ready to help!
What Are Your Rights Under The FMLA?
The FMLA provides certain employees with up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. During this time, your group work benefits, such as health insurance, must continue.
Is Your Employer Covered By The FMLA?
The FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and private businesses with 50 or more employees. If your employer falls under any of these categories, it is obligated to provide FMLA leave to eligible employees.
Are You Eligible For FMLA Leave?
To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must satisfy the following three conditions:
- You must work for a covered employer for at least 12 months
- You must have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months
- You must work at a location where your company employs at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
For What Reasons Can FMLA Leave Be Requested?
If you are an eligible employee for a covered employer, you may request up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected medical leave for any of the following reasons:
- The birth and care of the newborn child of an employee
- The 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
- To care for your own serious health condition that renders you unable to work
What Is A ‘Serious Medical Condition’ Under The FMLA?
The FMLA defines as “serious medical condition” as any one of the following:
- Conditions requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility
- Conditions that incapacitate you or your family member for more than three consecutive days and have ongoing medical treatment
- Chronic conditions that cause occasional periods when you or your family member are incapacitated and require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year
- Pregnancy (including prenatal medical appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness, and medically required bed rest)
How Much Notice Must You Give Your Employer Before Using FMLA Leave?
As a general rule, the FMLA requires you to give your employer at least 30 days notice of your need for FMLA leave if you know in advance you will need it. Sometimes, however, your need for FMLA leave may arise on short notice. Under these circumstances, the FMLA requires you to give your employer notice as soon as possible and practical.
Do You Have To Take The 12 Weeks Of Leave All At Once?
If it is medically necessary, you may take FMLA leave intermittently, that is, in separate blocks of time for a single qualifying reason. When leave is needed for planned medical treatment, you must make a reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt your employer’s operations. Importantly, FMLA leave to care for or bond with a newborn child or for a newly-placed adopted or foster child may only be taken intermittently with your employer’s approval and must conclude within 12 months after the birth or placement.
What Are Some Examples Of Illegal FMLA Interference Or Retaliation?
The following are some examples of illegal interference or retaliation under the FMLA:
- 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
Many times, it’s hard to figure out whether your employer is interfering with your FMLA rights or retaliating against you for exercising them. If you’re facing an uncertain medical leave issue at work, it’s always best to consult with an experienced Pennsylvania medical leave lawyer.
Can You Sue Your Employer For Denying A Request For FMLA Leave?
Yes. If you are an eligible employee of a covered employer and your employer denies your valid FMLA leave request, you can sue your employer for interference with your FMLA rights. To prove FMLA interference, you must typically prove two (3) things:
- You are entitled to FMLA leave
- Your employer interfered with your right to that benefit (e.g., by unjustifiably denying your request or retaliating against you for asking)
- Your employer’s interference caused harm (e.g., your inability to receive or provide needed medical care)
Can You Sue Your Employer For Retaliating Against You Because You Used Or Requested FMLA Leave?
Yes. The FMLA’s regulations prohibit covered employers from retaliating against employees for exercising, or attempting to exercise, their FMLA rights. That means your employer cannot fire you, demote you, or take any negative action against you because you used or requested FMLA leave. In addition, your covered employer is prohibited from taking any negative action against you because you filed an FMLA complaint in court or with the U.S. Department of Labor.
How Long Do You Have To File An FMLA Lawsuit Against Your Employer?
Generally, you have two years from the date of your employer’s FMLA interference or retaliation to file a lawsuit in court. If your employer willfully violated the FMLA, this deadline is extended to three years.
What Kind Of Damages Can Be Recovered For A FMLA Interference Or Retaliation Claim?
There are three kinds of money damages you can usually recover for your FMLA interference or retaliation claim:
Back pay: these are the wages, salary, and/or benefits you lost as a result of your employer’s illegal retaliation or interference. Back pay covers such lost earnings from the date of termination (or other action by your employer) to the date of the judgment in your case.
Front pay: these are wages, salary, and/or benefits you will lose in the future as a result of your employer’s illegal retaliation or interference (from the date of the judgment to some point in the future). For example, if you’re unlikely to find a new job for another year, you may be awarded front pay for that year.
Liquidated damages: these are amounts automatically awarded unless your employer can show that it acted in good faith. For example, if your employer can show that it made an honest mistake when it denied you leave, you will not be awarded liquidated damages. Liquidated damages under the FMLA are equal to the amount you win in lost back pay.