The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a federal law that requires employers covered by it to give their eligible employees leave for specified medical or family reasons. The leave is unpaid, and it is supposed to be job-protected. However, in some cases, employers commit FMLA violations that cause harm to an employee. Employees harmed by FMLA violations may bring a lawsuit to seek their damages. Emre Polat is a New York City FMLA lawyer who represents both employees. He also can assist you if you need a discrimination lawyer or representation in another type of employment dispute.FMLA Violations
The leave provided under the FMLA gives eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year. Their jobs are protected during this time, and their group health benefits are maintained. Employers covered by the FMLA are private companies with 50 or more employees, as well as elementary and secondary schools and public agencies.
Reasons why leave must be granted by covered employers include:
- Childbirth and caring for a newborn of the employee;
- A child being placed with the employee for foster care or adoption;
- Caring for an immediate family member who has a serious medical condition;
- Medical leave for an employee who cannot work due to a serious medical condition;
- A family member's serious injury or illness due to military service; and
- Qualifying exigencies that occur because a family member is deployed in the military.
Employees are eligible for leave based on any of these reasons when they have worked at least 12 months for at least 1,250 hours over a 12-month period and work at a place where the company employs 50 employees within 75 miles of the jobsite where the employee works. However, employees should be aware that taking a leave due to pregnancy complications like bed rest or preeclampsia may be counted against the 12 weeks of family and medical leave. An FMLA attorney can advise New York City clients on whether the law applies in their situation.
FMLA violations may result in an employer needing to pay damages. One violation would be when an employer fails to account for a serious health condition. For example, an employer who does not let an eligible employee take leave for bronchitis is likely to be found to have violated the FMLA. Similarly, an employer is not allowed to discipline a worker for taking an FMLA-qualified absence because it failed to inquire about the absence and therefore did not know that it was covered by the FMLA. Similarly, an employer may not retaliate against a worker who takes the full 12 weeks of FMLA leave, such as by giving a bad performance review related to work not completed due to the leave. Another common violation by an employer would be failing to continue the worker's health insurance or pressuring an employee who has taken a leave beyond simply requiring a periodic status report.
Employees need to be aware that they may need to provide a certification of their need to take leave and to give notice that they need a leave that is covered by the FMLA. The employee does not need to state that they are taking an FMLA leave, although they do need to give the employer enough information to put the employer on notice that leave is needed for a covered reason. Employers are supposed to let employees know their rights and obligations relative to the FMLA.
After the leave is over, most employees are entitled to go back to their prior position. There may be an FMLA violation in connection with this entitlement as well. However, an employer may give an employee an equivalent position if the employee's former position is not available. Sometimes an employer commits an FMLA violation by putting an employee returning from FMLA leave into any available position or providing less responsibility or fewer benefits. These are violations for which an employee may be able to recover damages.
Employers are not required to reinstate someone who is considered a key employee if reinstatement would cause a grievous, substantial economic injury to the company. A key employee is someone who is among the 10% highest-paid employees within 75 miles.Seek Assistance From an FMLA Lawyer in New York City
An employee is entitled to recover damages for an FMLA violation. Whether you are an employee harmed by a legal violation or an employer seeking to determine when the law applies, a New York City FMLA attorney can make sure that your rights are protected. Emre Polat is a rising star in New York and New Jersey, and he has worked for both a plaintiff's firm and a defense firm. He represents clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties and in New Jersey. Call us at (212) 480-4500 or submit our online form for an appointment with a wrongful termination lawyer or advice with another employment matter.