You are more than just a worker, and there may be times that your own health or the health of someone in your family has to come before your job. That is where the Family and Medical Leave Act (or FMLA) comes in. The FMLA allows qualifying employees to take unpaid leave to care for their own or a close family member’s serious health condition without fear of losing their job. Sadly, your employer might not respect your rights under the FMLA. The employer might discourage you from taking FMLA leave or might punish you for having taken it. If that happens to you, then you need to contact the Connecticut FMLA lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C.
What Is the FMLA?
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide workers with 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualifying medical or family reasons without risk of losing their jobs. Since it was signed into law in 1993, the FMLA has helped thousands of American workers balance their jobs with their family obligations.
Connecticut has its own version of the FMLA. If you work in Connecticut, you may be covered by the federal FMLA, but you also may be covered by the Connecticut FMLA. The Connecticut FMLA applies to almost every employer in Connecticut, with very few exceptions. To be eligible, an employee needs to have worked for their employer for the preceding three months, but there is no minimum number of hours that the employee must have worked. As with the federal FMLA, the Connecticut FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period. Employees may also receive an additional two weeks of leave for incapacitation during pregnancy, and military caregivers may take up to 16 weeks of leave.
Importantly, under both federal and Connecticut law, FMLA leave does not need to be consecutive. Instead, it can be “intermittent.” This means you can spread your 12 weeks of leave out, taking the leave only when you need it.
While an employee is out on FMLA leave, the employer must continue to provide health insurance on the same terms as when the employee was working. And when the employee returns from FMLA leave, the employer must return the employee to the same job position, with the same seniority and benefits.
What Medical Conditions Qualify for FMLA Leave?
Not all medical conditions are covered by the FMLA. You do not take FMLA leave for a cold. In order to take FMLA leave, you or an immediate family member – your spouse, child, or parent – must have a “serious health condition.” That means an illness, injury, or condition that involves hospitalization or that involves continuing treatment by a healthcare provider. It generally requires three consecutive days of incapacity. The FMLA also applies to the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of the employee’s child.
How Employers Violate the FMLA
Employers violate the FMLA in a variety of ways.
Some violations are quite technical. For example, employers may not be aware that they are required to provide employees with a series of notices of their FMLA rights. If the employer fails to provide the requisite notice, that is an FMLA violation.
Employers also violate the FMLA by failing to honor employees’ requests for it. You do not need to use the term “FMLA” to request leave. There are no magic words. An employee’s request for leave is triggered when an eligible employee requests time off for a qualified purpose. If the employer knows that the employee is eligible and has requested leave, the employer must provide information about the FMLA. Failing to do so is a violation of the law.
Other violations are more sinister. For example, in the case of DeAngelo v. Yellowbook, Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti represented a salesman who was battling cancer. Rather than provide the employee with the support he needed, the employer increased his sales quotas and then terminated him for breaking a rule that many other employees routinely broke without any consequences. That was unlawful FMLA retaliation.
How Our Connecticut FMLA Lawyers Can Help
If you believe that you are entitled to FMLA leave and your employer has either refused or interfered with your legal rights, it’s time to take action. Our Connecticut FMLA lawyers have been protecting the rights of employees throughout the State for more than 40 years. We have been recognized by our peers and a number of legal organizations for our skill and expertise. We work as a team to give you the best possible representation. We have taken on almost every large employer in the State of Connecticut, and we are not afraid to stand up for you.
If your Connecticut employer is violating your FMLA rights, please contact Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti now for a confidential evaluation of your case.