FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT “FMLA” – KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

By Dugan P. Kelley

Employers are subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave, with the right to reinstatement, for certain reasons.  Covered employees are allowed to take 12 weeks of unpaid (but your job is protected) leave for certain family and/or medical reasons.  An employee is typically eligible if they have worked for their employer: for at least one year; worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months; and the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

Legal Reasons For FMLA Leave:

Appropriate reasons for taking leave include the following:

  • To care for your child after birth, or after you adopted a new child;
  • To care for your wife/husband or children who have a serious health condition;
  • To care for yourself if you have a health condition that makes you unable to perform your job.

Advance Notice of FMLA Use Required:

You may be required to provide your employer advance notice and a medical diagnosis from a licensed doctor prior to taking FMLA leave.  Typically, you will need to provide at least 30 days advance notice when the leave reason is known (and not an emergency).  An employer has the right to demand that the employee provide written certification by a doctor and to require the employee to have a second or third medical opinion.

Expected Benefits and Protection:

Throughout the FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s job and employee’s group health insurance under any group health care plan.  When the employee returns after the leave, the employer must restore the employee back to their position that they had prior to taking leave, OR an equivalent position with the same pay, benefits, or other employment terms.  An employee who uses FMLA cannot be discriminated against or lose benefits, position, or pay as a result of using the FMLA.

Illegal Actions by Employers:

It is illegal for any employer to do the following:

  • Interfere with, restrain, or deny an employee’s right to use FMLA;
  • Discharge or discriminate against any employee for opposing any practice, policy, or procedure that is illegal under the FMLA.

Call Kelley Clarke For A Consultation:

If you think that you have been discriminated against in this area, or if you believe that you qualify for leave, please call Kelley Clarke at 972-253-4440 or 805-884-9922, and one of our team members will assist you.  Kelley Clarke and its partners routinely speak and counsel companies on FMLA and other employment practices and procedures.