The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was designed to allow employees the ability to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, either continuous or intermittent, to help care for a child, parent or spouse who is dealing with a medical condition. It also allows the employee to take time off for his or her own medical care.
To qualify for FMLA leave an employee must have worked for 12 months and completed 1250 hours of work within those 12 months.
The employer must also have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the workplace.
Employers with over 50 employees will generally be covered by FMLA guidelines. All government agencies at the local, state and federal level are covered, along with elementary and secondary schools.
As a federal law, employers who are covered by the law must comply. They cannot request for their employees to take less time off, or to take the time off when it is more convenient.
If you qualify for FMLA leave from an employer who is covered by the FMLA guidelines and your request for leave was denied, then you might have an FMLA claim against your employer.
When Can You Be Denied Leave?
Generally speaking, if you and your employer both meet the qualifications to be covered by FMLA guidelines then you should be granted leave provided that your request meets the certification process.
If your employer does not meet the requirements, such as not having 50 employees in a 75-mile radius of where you work, then you can be denied leave.
While your employer might meet that qualification in other locations, it means that your location might not be able to function should an employee take an extended leave of absence.
It is also possible that the employee does not meet the requirements to receive FMLA leave. The 12 month qualification is based on a seven year window.
You do not need to have 12 months of consecutive work necessarily, which means that seasonal or temporary workers could still apply, but you would still need to meet the 1250 hour requirement to qualify. If you do not have 1250 hours in the past 12 months then you will not be approved to take FMLA leave.
Employees may be asked to provide certification for their FMLA leave.
The certification process includes documentation from a medical professional that corresponds to the request for time off. If the medical evidence does not support the request, then the FMLA leave can be denied.
What To Do If Denied FMLA Leave
If you meet all of the criteria and are still denied leave, then you might need to consider filing a complaint against your employer.
There are two ways to file a complaint: You can file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) or you can file a private lawsuit. Both methods will achieve the same goal if you can provide supporting evidence that backs up your claim.
If filing through WHD, you can file in person at a local branch office, you can file a complaint over the phone, via the internet or by mail. You will be protected against retaliation if you need to file an FMLA complaint against your employer.
Whether you choose to file a complaint through WHD or by private lawsuit, it is advisable to consult with an employment law attorney who can help you file the claim.
Consult With An Employment Law Attorney
If you are a qualifying employee who works for an employer covered by FMLA guidelines and you were denied FMLA leave, you can file a claim against your employer to receive the time off to which you are entitled.
You must file your claim within the timeline established by the statute of limitations, which states that you have two years from the date of the violation to file a claim, or three years if you can prove that your employer intentionally violated the law by denying your FMLA leave.
While hiring an employment law attorney will not guarantee that you will win your case, it will greatly increase your chances of success by having an expert working on your behalf to secure the maximum damages and remedies available, including receiving the time off you need, lost wages and reinstatement.
Most employment law attorneys will not require payment upfront and will work instead on a contingency basis so that you will not pay unless you win your case.
For more information and to find out how an employment attorney might be able to help you, complete the free case evaluation.