The Family Medical Leave Act provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave for employees who need to take an extended amount of time off to deal with their own illness or medical condition or to provide care for a child, spouse or parent who is dealing with a medical condition that requires care.
It also provides time off for men and women to bond with a newborn baby, adopted child or newly placed foster child.
There is also a provision for up to 26 weeks of time off to care for a qualifying military service member who is dealing with an illness or injury.
Not all employers fall under FMLA guidelines, but generally speaking most private companies with over 50 employees will be covered under the law.
All government agencies at the local, state and federal level are covered along with elementary and secondary schools.
Employees are eligible to receive FMLA benefits if they have worked for their employer for 12 months and have completed at least 1250 hours during that period.
The employee must also work in a location where the company has at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius of the workplace. If all of those conditions are met, the employee will qualify for FMLA leave.
The benefit to FMLA leave is that the employee can rest assured that his or her job will be safe while on leave. Not only is the job protected, but so are the employee’s health benefits.
Should the nature of the job change while the employee is on leave, then the employee must be placed in an equivalent position with similar requirements, skills, pay, benefits and schedule.
Can I Be Fired For Taking Leave?
Under FMLA guidelines a qualifying employee is protected from losing his or her job for requesting or taking FMLA leave.
Your employer cannot take disciplinary action against you, engage in retaliation, disclose private medical information, eliminate benefits that you held before taking the leave, changing your role or position or failing to grant FMLA leave if you meet the qualifications.
Your job is protected under the Family Medical Leave Act, so if you have been fired as a result of taking FMLA leave then you need to take action against your employer.
What To Do If Fired
If you were fired for taking FMLA leave, make sure you document everything. In the event that you file a complaint against your former employer you will need to have evidence of the claim including the names of everyone involved, the dates that the situation took place and how it all came about.
Make sure you have copies of the medical evidence that supports the reason you took the leave in the first place as well.
You have two years to file a complaint from the date the violation took place, or three years if you can prove that your employer intentionally fired you because you took FMLA leave.
There are two options for filing a complaint: You can file with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) or you can file a private lawsuit. Both methods can achieve the same results.
It is important to file your complaint as soon as possible so that you can get your job back and move forward. You should consider working with an employment law attorney so that you can make sure you are doing everything possible to recover your position.
Speaking With An Employment Law Attorney
If you were fired for requesting FMLA leave or for taking the leave, you should speak with an employment law attorney immediately to determine whether you were fired illegally.
An employment law attorney can help you file a claim against your employer so that you can get your job back and receive the maximum damages and remedies available to you, including lost wages, recovery of benefits and compensation for providing care for a family member.
Though hiring an employment law attorney will not guarantee that you will win your case, having an expert working on your behalf will greatly improve your chances for success.
It is also helpful having someone guiding you through the process because it is possible that you are still dealing with the effects of the medical condition that necessitated the leave in the first place.
Having an expert on your side will help to ensure that you have all of the documentation necessary as well as meeting all of the important timelines
To find out more about how an employment law attorney might be able to help you with your case, complete a free case evaluation.