Detroit Family & Medical Leave Act Violation (FMLA) Lawyers
An illness or injury can be a devastating blow for a person and their family. When this happens to you or a loved one, you have plenty of things to worry about. Losing your job and your income should not be one of them. That is why federal law protects eligible workers from termination or other adverse employment actions if they need to take time off to care for themselves or a loved one.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows workers who qualify to take up to twelve weeks off from work under certain circumstances. When employers fail to understand or comply with their obligations to provide that leave, they violate their employees’ rights. This is a serious offense. Affected workers can and should take action to assert their rights and preserve their livelihoods.
If you believe that your employer has violated your FMLA rights or put your job at risk because of a medical issue that required you to take legally-protected leave, you have allies and advocates at Sommers Schwartz. Our experienced and committed Michigan employment law attorneys understand that nothing is more important than your health and well-being and that of your family. That is why we aggressively push back on employers who disregard their employees’ rights, getting them the justice and protection they deserve.
What Is the FMLA?
The Family & Medical Leave Act protects employees as they deal with family or medical situations that take them from the workplace for an extended period, either in a single block of time or intermittently.
The FMLA provides eligible workers with:
- Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year
- Mandated continuation of group health insurance benefits during the leave as if the employee was still working
- A guarantee to return to their same or an equivalent job at the end of their leave
Who Is Covered by the FMLA?
The FMLA applies to private and public employers with 50 or more employees. To be eligible to take leave under the law, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and put in at least 1,250 non-overtime hours throughout the year immediately preceding the first day of leave. The employee also must work in a location that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
The 12 months of employment do not need to be consecutive for the employee to qualify and may be impacted by breaks in service due to military obligations or under a collective bargaining or other written agreement.
Reasons You Can Take Family and Medical Leave.
An eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for any of the following reasons:
- Birth of a child
- Adoption of a child
- Foster care placement of a child
- Recovery from a serious health condition, including illness, injury impairment, or other physical or mental condition
- Care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
Employees need not take the allowable 12 weeks of leave consecutively and can break up the 12 weeks as necessary.
Advance Notice and Medical Certification Requirements for Leave
Employers can require employees to give advance notice of FMLA leave when possible. Thirty days is preferred if the situation allows. When an unforeseen circumstance, like a sudden injury or illness, requires the employee to take leave, they should give their employer as much notice as possible.
Employees must give their employees enough information about the reasons for taking leave for them to verify that it is FMLA-worthy. An employer may ask for medical certification of the employee’s health condition from a physician and can even pay for the employee to get a second opinion on that certification if the employer feels it is warranted. The employer may also require a doctor to certify that the employee is well enough to resume their job duties after their leave is over.
Like a common cold or flu, some conditions would not be enough to take FMLA leave, but complications related to those illnesses, like pneumonia, might be. Employers can deny a request for leave if the reason for taking it does not meet FMLA standards.
Ways Employers Can Violate Employees’ FMLA Rights
Employers cannot prevent eligible employees from taking FMLA leave, nor can they take any adverse actions in response to an employee’s request for such a leave. Employers can violate the FMLA in many ways, including:
- Refusing to authorize a leave of absence
- Manipulating an employee’s schedule to affect eligibility
- Dissuading an employee from taking leave
- Threatening an employee if they take leave
- Ceasing healthcare coverage for the employee
- Pressuring the employee to come back to work earlier than needed
- Termination or any adverse employment action, such as negative reviews, denial of promotion, or reduced job responsibilities
- Retaliating against an employee who seeks to enforce their FMLA rights by filing a complaint and cooperating with the Wage & Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor) or for bringing private action in court
An employer might violate FMLA rights accidentally, but this is not a viable excuse. Employers must familiarize themselves with the FMLA and regularly notify employees about their rights to take leave and how to do it. Employers may not excessively contact an employee on leave to pressure them to come back to work, nor may they even subtly punish them for taking time off, such as requiring that employee to reapply for their job or benefits upon their return. Time taken off for an FMLA leave cannot be counted against an employee, even at a company where workers are allowed a certain number of days and no more.
Protecting Workers’ Rights to Care for Their Families
If your employer has violated your rights under the FMLA, the law provides you with powerful remedies. These include:
- Recovery of any economic losses such as lost income and benefits
- Job reinstatement
- Attorney fees and costs
- Punitive damages, such as liquidated damages doubling the amount of economic losses for employers who make intentional violations
You may be unsure of how to proceed when pursuing legal action against your employer. Speak with an experienced attorney who handles FMLA violation cases about your case for help in determining the appropriate next steps.
Contact a Detroit FMLA Violation Attorney for Help
At Sommers Schwartz, our employment law attorneys stand up for workers who face unfair and illegal treatment when they need to care for themselves or their families. We fight tirelessly to protect their rights and their jobs and have recovered substantial compensation for FMLA violations.
If you have questions or concerns about your FMLA rights or believe you have received unfair treatment because of requesting or taking leave, please contact the employment law attorneys at Sommers Schwartz today.