Understanding The Family And Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is a federal law that permits certain employees to take unpaid leave for family and medical reasons. The FMLA, while simple and straight-forward in theory, is very technical and a highly litigated area of the law. Every FMLA case is different, and even the most seemingly insignificant fact can make a difference between a large reward as opposed to ineligibility of FMLA protections. The Moore Law Firm, PLLC, has experience litigating FMLA cases with successful results. We highly recommend that you contact an experienced FMLA attorney to discuss your eligibility and potential for recovery.
Am I Eligible For FMLA Protection?
Certain requirements must be met for an employee to receive protections under the FMLA. The FMLA generally applies if the following elements are satisfied:
- The employee must have been employed for 12 months (not necessarily in a row)
- The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the FMLA leave
- The employee must have worked at a site with at least 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius
Like most employment law claims, there are exceptions. Even if the previous three elements are not satisfied, an employee may still receive protections under the FMLA. Courts have recognized that if an employer informs an employee that they are covered under the FMLA and the employee detrimentally relies upon that representation, then the employer is prevented from thereafter disputing the employee’s eligibility.
Reasons For FMLA Leave?
An eligible employee can take FMLA leave for the following reasons:
- Birth of a child
- Placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care
- A serious health condition that prevents the employee from performing essential functions of the job
- Care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent for a serious health condition
- “Qualifying exigency” arising from deployment to a foreign county
- Care for an injured or ill family member of armed forces
What Protections Are Available Under The FMLA?
The FMLA provides that an eligible employee is entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. In addition, an employee is guaranteed restoration to his or her former position upon return to work. If the position is not available, then the employee must be restored to a similar position.
What Happens If My Employer Violates The FMLA?
Two separate claims are available under the FMLA. The first is “FMLA Interference.” This arises when a covered employer interferes, restrains or denies the employee FMLA rights. Commonly, FMLA Interference takes the form of an employer’s denial of an employee’s request for FMLA leave. However, it can also include situations where an employer takes an employee’s leave into consideration in evaluating his or her work performance.
The second is “FMLA Retaliation.” Retaliation can take many forms and includes termination, discipline and using FMLA leave as a negative factor in evaluations.
A successful employee can recover a host of damages, including:
- Lost wages and benefits
- Liquidated damages
- Costs and attorney fees
If you have questions about the FMLA or have been treated unfairly for requesting or taking FMLA leave, contact The Moore Law Firm to discuss your situation. Call us now at 304-358-0318 or fill out our simple contact form. We assist clients across West Virginia.