An Overview of Family Medical Leave Act Violations
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law guaranteeing employees the right to take a length of unpaid leave from work for parental responsibilities and certain health problems. The law was created to allow employees to provide caretaking duties without fear of losing their employment or being subject to disciplinary action. However, FMLA is not widely understood and FMLA violations by employers are common. Further, some employers willfully violate the law and FMLA violation cases are on the rise. Here’s what you need to know about FMLA provisions and how to file a legal claim against your employer if needed.
What Is the Family Medical Leave Act?
Passed in 1993, the FMLA is a U.S. labor law that allows employees to take unpaid leave for qualifying family reasons without fear of repercussions from their employers. The law was a major initiative of President Bill Clinton and is currently administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The FMLA allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave for certain protected reasons without fear of being terminated or losing group health insurance coverage. The federal law allows employees to take up to three months of leave in a calendar year for the following reasons:
- The birth and care of a newborn child
- The adoption of a child
- Providing care for a close family member who has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition.
- Diagnosis of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to work
Further, the FMLA allows up to 26 weeks of leave during a single calendar year to care for a covered military service member with a serious illness or injury. The service member must be the employee’s spouse, child or next of kin.
What Are the Most Common Types of FMLA Violations?
Some employers unknowingly make FMLA violations, while others do not follow the law willingly because of financial, professional or personal reasons. It is important to know the content of the law so you can recognize violations and protect yourself. Here are some of the most common FMLA violations:
Your employer does not understand your request
If you are requesting FMLA leave, you are not obligated to specifically use the term FMLA on the request. An employer is responsible for understanding the law, realizing the nature of your request and acting per the law.
Your employer demands an unlawful amount of notice
The law necessitates that employees provide at least a month’s notice for FMLA leave if the problem is something foreseeable. Employers cannot require you to provide more than 30 days’ notice. If you need to take FMLA due to an emergency, your employer must give you flexibility. If employers do not provide flexibility, they could be violating your rights.
Your employer denies your request
Your employer has the right to request that you schedule medical appointments at a certain time. They also have the right to receive 30 days’ notice if you wish to request FMLA leave. However, your employer does not have the right to otherwise deny or delay your FMLA leave request.
Your employer requires you to work or suggests you work from home while on FMLA leave
If you are on FMLA leave, you are not required to work or be available to answer work phone calls or reply to emails at any time. Occasionally, an employer will deny your request and instead suggest you work from home for a certain period. This is against the FMLA policy and a violation of your rights. Further, your FMLA request must be processed within a reasonable amount of time.
You receive disciplinary action for taking FMLA leave
It is against the law for an employer to fire you for taking FMLA leave. Other disciplinary actions that are prohibited include verbal or other types of abuse during your leave or when you return to work. However, you must recognize the difference between an unlawful FMLA disciplinary action and routine workplace feedback.
Your employer demotes you
When you return to your job after FMLA leave, your employer is required to reinstate your previous job title, pay, benefits and job duties. If you are demoted or your previous position is otherwise changed, your employer may be violating the FMLA law.
This is not a comprehensive list of all FMLA violations. If you feel your rights have been violated, you may want to contact an FMLA attorney.
How Can I File an FMLA Complaint?
You have two options when it comes to filing an FMLA complaint against an employer. First, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Secretary of Labor. You can file a formal complaint in person, by telephone or by mail. Some states also have local offices that are permitted to accept complaints. While there is no official rule indicating when the complaint must be filed, it should be filed within a reasonable period.
You also have the option of filing a private civil lawsuit in any federal or state court. Lawsuits must be filed within a certain period of time, generally within two years of the unlawful action. You may have up to three years to file the lawsuit if the court determines that your employer’s actions were willful. Some states have certain limitations when it comes to private civil lawsuit actions. You may want to consult with an attorney in your local area regarding these limitations.
Work With an Experienced FMLA Attorney
If you suspect that your employer has violated the provisions outlined in the FMLA law, you should contact an experienced attorney to help you understand your rights. You need to know whether to file an official complaint with the U.S. Secretary of Labor or a private civil lawsuit with a state court.
Do not wait any longer to exercise your rights. Obtain the assistance you deserve with your FMLA violation case by contacting an attorney near you to start the legal process. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!