Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Claim

An employee may be able to file a Family Medical Leave Act claim if their rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) have been violated.

The FMLA is a federal law which protects employees when requesting time off or taking time off due to a health condition.  It also protects employees who take time off to care for a family member.  Generally, employees who have worked for their employer for 12 months and have completed 1,250 hours of work are protected by the law.  It allows such employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period.  During that time period, the employee is entitled to the same group health benefits.  While the FMLA covers a variety of conditions, the most common protected types of leave are the following:

  • The employee is unable to work due to a serious health condition.
  • The birth of a child, and to bond with the child (foster parents and parents of an adopted child have similar rights)
  • To care for an immediate family member (child, spouse, or parent) who has a serious health condition.

A “serious health condition” typically involves a condition that requires an employee to stay overnight in a hospital or incapacitates the employee or a family member for more than three consecutive days and requires ongoing medical treatment.  It can also include situations where an employee or family member has a chronic condition that causes occasional periods where the employee or family member is incapacitated and require treatment at least twice a year.  Pregnancy is also considered a serious health condition.

The FMLA not only allows an employee who has been fired or demoted to recover money from their employer, but it also allows a judge to reinstate an employee to his or her prior position (with virtually the same duties and pay).

The money that an employee can recover due to an FMLA violation is generally awarded in order to make the employee whole.  An award often includes back pay, which is the wages an employee lost due to the employer’s violation.  If an employee is demoted, an employer may have to pay the difference between the amount the employee made and what the employee would have made had no violation occurred.

A court may also away front pay.  Front pay is the amount of money an employee can expect to lose in the future due to an employer’s wrongful conduct.  Front pay is typically awarded when an employee has not found a new job and the court does not order an employee to be reinstated.

A court is likely to award out-of-pocket costs as well.  If the employer’s violation caused an employee to spend money that he or she would not have otherwise spent, the employee can recoup these costs.  This kind of damage can come in a variety of forms including having to hire someone to care for a child and travel expenses.

The FMLA also allows courts to award liquidated damages.  Liquidated damages include the lost wages and employment benefits with interest.  This type of damage essentially doubles the award for an employee who was wrongfully terminated or demoted.  An employer can only escape liquidated damages when it can show that its action was done in good faith and the employer had objectively reasonable grounds to believe to was not violating the law.

Call an experienced attorney to help you pursue a Family Medical Leave Act claim

If you need an experienced and successful trial attorney to help you protect your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), contact our firm and discuss your case with one of our lawyers in complete confidence.

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