The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 is a labor law in the U.S. that requires covered employers to provide their employees with job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified family and medical reasons. The FMLA guarantees employees can take as long as 12 weeks of unpaid leave, which can either be used in increments – of as little as a few hours at a time – or all at once.
When on FMLA, employees are guaranteed the opportunity to maintain their health insurance coverage. When you return to work after FMLA leave, you will go back to your previous position or an equivalent job that pays the same salary and offers the same benefits and other employment conditions.
To qualify for FMLA, an employee must have worked at least 12 months for his or her employer and during the last 12 months, he or she must have worked 1,250 hours. The law is applicable to schools and government organizations as well as to private companies that have 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.
If you are eligible for FMLA, but your employer denies your request, it could put you and your family in a serious bind. You could even end up losing your job. You do have protections from the FMLA and other federal laws, so if you believe your claim was wrongfully denied or that you have been mistreated and there are FMLA violations, you can file legal action against your employer.
Through a claim, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses, such as if you lost your job, or if you were demoted because of your rebuttal to being denied leave.
Which Workers Are Covered?
As previously mentioned, the worker must have an established role within the company to qualify. Here is a rundown of the worker’s qualification requirements:
- You must have worked at least 12 months for your employer. If you have worked 6 months or even 11 months, your request can be denied.
- You must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the last 12 months at your employer.
While your employer can ask that you give a notice before asking for FMLA, they cannot expect too much of a notice. The FMLA doesn’t specify the requirements on that, but of course, if you have a heart attack and need to take FMLA leave because you need surgery within the next few days, they cannot expect you to give them a 30-day notice.
You cannot go on FMLA leave just for any reason. The law has specific criteria that must be met and specific reasons that are eligible for leave. Here are some of the legitimate reasons that you are allowed to go on leave:
- The birth of a child – within the first 12 months after the child’s birth.
- The adoption of a child or taking in a foster child – within the first 12 months of taking custody.
- A serious medical condition that requires treatment.
- The serious illness or injury of a child, parent, or spouse.
- Leave for pregnancy.
- A family member – such as a child, parent, or spouse – is deployed for active military duty.
- To care for a family member who was injured while on active military duty.
Your employer can ask you to provide supporting documentation or evidence that shows one of these situations apply to your specific leave request.
Help From An Employment Law Attorney
If you qualify for FMLA and you have a legitimate reason to ask for leave, but your request has been denied and you were not allowed to go on leave, you should talk with an employment law attorney who handles such cases in your area.
An attorney will be familiar with the FMLA laws and processes and will know the best way to proceed with your claim. If you met the requirements to be approved for FMLA leave, and your request was denied, your attorney will file a claim against your employer for your mistreatment and for their violation of the FMLA.
When you talk with an attorney, ask them how they expect to be paid as well as details about their fees. Some employment law attorneys take cases on the contingency basis. If that applies, then your attorney will not be paid until you win your claim.
Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to share the details of your FMLA claim with an attorney who handles such cases in your area.