In 1993, the federal government enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law guarantees covered employees certain rights related to taking time off to care for their loved ones and to receive treatment for their own injuries and illnesses. FMLA is the closest thing United States employees have to parental leave, as paid parental leave is not required at the federal level.
When an employee is covered by FMLA, it is illegal for his or her employer to deny him or her access to its benefits. However, this does happen, sometimes directly and sometimes through more roundabout means like classifying an employee as an independent contractor. Anytime you are rightfully entitled to FMLA benefits and they are denied, you can pursue compensation for the damages you suffered through an FMLA claim.
To qualify for FMLA protections, an employee must meet the following criteria:
FMLA guarantees employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off work for the following reasons:
While out on unpaid leave, employees are guaranteed the right to continue receiving the same benefits they could access while working. They also must return to their previous positions or substantially similar ones upon returning to work.
Just like with any other denial of your workplace rights, document everything. Document every interaction that you feel supports your claim that your rights have been denied and take careful note of exactly how your employer presents the denial to you. Bring your documentation to your company’s Human Resources department to see if you can resolve the issue without involving outside parties. If you can not, contact an experienced employment lawyer to discuss filing an FMLA denial claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC will investigate your case to determine whether your rights were violated. If so, it may work with you and your employer to settle the issue. If the EEOC cannot settle the issue with your employer, you may choose to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for the damages you suffered.
When you face an FMLA violation or any other violation of your rights in the workplace, work with an experienced employment lawyer to determine the right course of action for your case. To learn more about your rights and legal options, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline today to schedule your initial legal consultation with us.