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Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

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Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

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Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

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The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave every year with employee health benefits continuing throughout. FMLA applies to all public agencies, elementary and secondary schools, and companies with fifty or more employees. While a common use for FMLA is to protect the jobs of new mothers who have recently given birth and must care for a newborn, if a mother has to take time off work prior to the birth due to pregnancy complications, it could detract from the 12 weeks of FMLA allotted to her. During leave taken through FMLA, it is illegal for an employer to terminate or retaliate against you.

It’s important to document anything that could prove the need for FMLA. Whether that means notes from a doctor, medical reports, adoption papers, etc., make sure to keep this information on hand. This evidence could be used to prove your eligibility for FMLA, or to prove your case if you find yourself wrongly denied FMLA.

Qualifications for FMLA

There are a variety of common reasons which might qualify an employee for FMLA. However, it should be noted that employees are only eligible for this leave if they have worked for their current employer for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months at a location with 50 or more employees. Military families may have alternate provisions designed for the needs of military families.

According to the United States Department of Labor, some reasons that qualify for FMLA are as follows:

  • For the birth and care of a newborn child
  • For placement of a child for adoption or foster care
  • To care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
  • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition

What if My Employer Illegally Denies a FMLA Request?

If you make the request to use FMLA for a valid reason, yet your employer denies you, there are a series of steps you can take to protect your rights. In this situation, it’s a good idea to talk to an employment law attorney as the litigation surrounding FMLA is extremely complex and can be difficult to navigate and prove on one’s own. Some steps a person can take if they think they have been unlawfully denied FMLA include:

  • Document the reason for needing FMLA. As mentioned previously, it’s important to contain a doctor’s note, medical records, or anything else that could prove the validity of your request to use FMLA.
  • Request a letter from your employer. If your employer refuses to grant your FMLA, request a letter detailing their reasons for the refusal. This document can be evaluated by an attorney and compared against the evidence supporting your requested use of FMLA.
  • Talk to an attorney. Once you have obtained the evidence above, take all that documentation to a qualified attorney to discuss your situation. An experienced employment law attorney will have a firm grasp of FMLA, how it works, and whether or not you strictly qualify for it. Additionally, an employment law attorney may have additional resources to offer if you need further help with the situation.

To learn more about FMLA and discuss your eligibility, seek legal counsel.

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