The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with time away from work for certain covered family and medical reasons. Unfortunately, employers sometimes violate FMLA and there are steps employees can take to address it.
FMLA overview and eligibility
Employees who are covered by FMLA can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a 12-month period. Employees must work for a covered employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before they start FMLA leave.
Employees are eligible for FMLA for the birth or adoption of a child, for their own serious health condition that prevents them from performing their job duties, to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition, or for military family leave.
During the time the employee is on FMLA, the employer must continue to provide health benefits and employees are entitled to return to a position with the same pay, benefits and working conditions.
Employees must provide reasonable notice to the employer when the need for leave is foreseeable and must provide documentation to support the leave request.
Potential employer violations
The employer is required to inform employees of their rights and responsibilities under FMLA. If they do not, it may be a violation of FMLA. Employers are not allowed to interfere with the employee’s rights under FMLA. They cannot retaliate against employees for taking FMLA or discourage them from taking leave.
Also, employers cannot unlawfully deny a request for leave. If the employee meets the criteria for FMLA, the employer must grant the request. Employers must also keep employee medical information confidential. If the employer shares this information inappropriately, it may be a violation of FMLA.
If an employee’s FMLA rights have been violated, they can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.