The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) aims to help employees balance their work and family lives. To do this, the act grants certain kinds of workers unpaid leave for family or medical reasons. Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of this job-protected leave per year. During this time, an employee retains any group health benefits they are currently enrolled in. Unfortunately, violations of this act are common and affect many workers’ ability to care for themselves or loved ones. For example, employees and HR departments often miscommunicate or misunderstand one another. These failures of communication can sometimes lead to FMLA violations. In other instances, violations occur due to an employer’s negligence or discriminatory behavior. Either scenario constitutes a denial of a worker’s federal rights. Here are the most common violations that take place under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993.
Failure of an Employer to Notify or Recognize FMLA Leave
As discussed above, employers have a duty to notify employees of their FMLA rights. They also have the additional duty of notifying an employee when leave counts toward their FMLA 12-week limit. Further, an employer must recognize when an employee is giving notice of FMLA leave. This is true even if the employee does not explicitly reference the FMLA. If an employer fails to uphold any of these duties, then they have violated the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993.
Failure of an Employer to Recognize Qualifying Reasons for Leave
Additionally, employers have a duty to recognize qualifying conditions which warrant taking FMLA leave. This means that an employer cannot refuse an employee leave if the reason presented is covered by the FMLA. Qualifying reasons for taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 include:
- To care for one’s own health when suffering from a serious medical condition
- To care for an immediate family member suffering from a serious health condition
- The birth and care of a newborn
- Incapacity related to pregnancy or health conditions following the birth of a child
- The adoption or fostering of a child
Requiring an Employee to Take Leave on a Full-Time Basis
Fortunately, some qualifying reasons for taking FMLA leave do not require a full-time absence from work. In these cases, when medically supported, your employer must allow you the option to take part-time leave. During this time, an employer must pay an employee for his or her part-time work, but not their part-time leave. Further, the days spent at work do not count towards an employee’s 12-week limit.
Disciplinary Actions Taken Against an Employee for Using FMLA Leave
Finally, if an employee is eligible for FMLA-protected leave, then he or she may take it when a medical or familial issue arises. So long as the employee complies with the FMLA’s requirements and limitations, his or her leave is federally protected. This means that an employer cannot retaliate against or terminate an employee for taking FMLA leave. However, the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 does not guarantee the same job after his or her leave ends. Even still, an employee can expect a similar job with similar pay, hours and responsibilities.
Were Your Rights Violated? Contact a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer Today
It is important to communicate clearly with your HR department concerning your need for unpaid leave. In some instances, an employee’s eligibility or reason for taking leave does not qualify for FMLA protections. However, valid violations can and do occur all the time. If you suspect a violation of your rights occurred under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, then contact us today. Through litigation, you may be able to recover what you lost due to your employer’s actions. To learn more about our services, fill out our online form or give us a call at (310) 499-0140.