Your Rights Under the Family and Medical Leave Act
Consult a Dallas Employment Attorney
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal employment law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period in certain circumstances. For instance, an employee who qualifies under FMLA can take leave for the purposes of pregnancy and birth, adoption, a serious illness or a need to care for a sick family member. Following leave pursuant to the FMLA, the employer must allow the employee to return to his or her former position at the same level of wages and benefits. Violations of FMLA can lead to serious consequences for an employer. If you have questions about your rights under FMLA or about FMLA rules, you need the advice of a Dallas employment lawyer. Contact an experienced Dallas employment attorney today to learn about your rights under FMLA.
To be eligible for FMLA coverage, an employee must work for a company that employs 50 or more employees at a worksite or within 75 miles of a worksite. Furthermore, an employee only qualifies for FMLA coverage if he or she has worked for the employer for at least one year and has worked at least 1,250 hours over the last 12-month period, which averages out to about 25 hours per week. Additionally, if you earn a salary in the top 10% of the workforce, or if allowing you to take FMLA leave would cause economic harm to your company, your employer has the right to deny you FMLA benefits.
Qualifying Immediate Family Members Under FMLA
One of the situations that can qualify an employee for FMLA coverage is the need to care for an immediate family member. FMLA defines an immediate family member as the spouse, child or parent of the employee. This definition does not include the parent of the employee’s spouse and does not include an employee’s child over the age of 18 unless he or she has a mental or physical disability that limits one or more major life activities and renders him or her incapable of self-care.
Required Documentation for FMLA Coverage
Your employer cannot require you to provide medical records regarding your own medical conditions, or those of your immediate family member, in order to qualify you for FMLA coverage. However, your employer can require that you provide medical certification that a serious illness or medical condition exists on a periodic basis.
FMLA Coverage and Other Types of Leave from Employment
An employer may require you, or you may choose, to first utilize your available paid leave time, such as vacation, personal time and sick time, before using unpaid leave pursuant to FMLA. Any paid time that you may or must use in this situation counts against the 12 weeks of guaranteed leave under FMLA. Furthermore, worker’s compensation leave can run along with FMLA leave, so long as the employer promptly advises the employee in writing that the worker’s compensation leave is applying toward FMLA leave.
Employer Penalties for Violating FMLA
If an employer denies FMLA leave to an eligible employee, or takes adverse action against an employee for exercising his or her right to FMLA leave, the employer can face penalties set forth by the U.S. Department of Labor. When an employee files a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor regarding a FMLA issue, the Department will attempt to negotiate and administratively resolve the matter with the employer directly. However, if the Department is unable to reach a resolution of the case, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, through the Wage and Hour Division, can impose remedies or sanctions against the employer.
Your employer can face serious penalties for violating your FMLA rights. If your employer has denied you FMLA leave to which you are entitled, or punished you for exercising your rights under FMLA, you need the counsel and advice of an experienced Dallas employment lawyer at the law offices of Dan A. Atkerson.
Atkerson Law provides experienced legal counsel to clients in Dallas, Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Grapevine, Southlake, Lewisville, Carrollton, Coppell and Fort Worth.