Sep 8 2017
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is a federal law that requires employers with a minimum number of employees to provide their employees unpaid leave for medical and family reasons without risk of losing their job. The law prohibits employers from “interfering” with an employee’s FMLA leave or retaliating against them for doing taking the leave. Since it was signed into law, the FMLA has helped thousands of American and Connecticut workers balance their work with their family obligations. Unfortunately, though, there are still times that employers violate the law.
How do you know if you are eligible for FMLA?
The federal FMLA applies to employers with at least 50 employees. As long as you have been an employee for at least a year and have worked 1,250 hours during the previous year, you are covered by the law.
However, it’s important to note that not all claims are covered by the law. To be eligible to take unpaid leave, one of the following conditions must be met:
- The birth, adoption, or foster care placement of the employee’s child
- The employee or the employee’s family member suffers from a serious health condition
- A qualifying need that arises because of a family member’s military deployment
- A family member was seriously injured or ill arising from military service
How Employers Violate the Law
Sometimes, employers don’t understand or misinterpret FMLA and deny employees coverage. For example, Daniel has become the primary caretaker of his elderly mother. Because of this, he has taken a lot of time off from work to take care of her needs. However, his company has a “no-fault” absence policy which disciplines an employee for taking too much time off. Under this policy, the employer fires Daniel.
The example used above would violate the FMLA (assuming Daniel is eligible for coverage under the law). An employer cannot count FMLA-qualified absences against an employee and, therefore, cannot discipline or fire the employee for taking authorized FMLA leave.
Employers are also required to provide employees with a series of written notices of their rights. Failing to do so is a violation of the law. It is also illegal for employers fail to recognize an employee notice.
An employee covered by the FMLA is entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for most qualifying conditions. While on leave, the employer must continue providing health insurance to the employee as well as hold the employee’s position until he or she returns. Failure to do so is a violation of the law. In addition, the employee is entitled to return to his or her original position; changing the employee to a lesser position is illegal.
The State of Connecticut has its own version of FMLA, which provides up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave every two years.
If you believe that you are entitled to FMLA leave and your employer has either refused or interfered with your legal rights or retaliated against you for exercising them, you may want to speak with an experienced employment lawyer. Contact Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C., for an evaluation of your case.