Federal law requires that certain employers must provide leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to employees who have worked with the company for more than a year for the birth or adoption of a child or when the employee, a spouse or close family relative suffers from a serious health condition. It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to hire or to discharge, fine, suspend, expel or discriminate against any individual because of an individual’s exercise of the right to family care and medical leave.
When certain important events occur, “eligible” employees are entitled under the FMLA to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period. The FMLA protects workers from being fired or other adverse employment actions, recognizing that these circumstances are important and are often beyond the worker’s control. FMLA protections extend to:
- The birth of a child and care for a newborn child.
- Placement and care for a newly adopted child or foster care child.
- A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the key functions of her job.
- Care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
- An emergency-type situation arising from a spouse, child, or parent being on covered active duty in the military.
In addition, the FMLA provides up to 26 weeks of leave during a 12-month period for those who have to care for next of kin service members with a serious injury or illness, which is known as military caregiver leave.
As important as the protections of the FMLA are the exceptions. Many workers are not covered. To be “eligible” the employer must have 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the place of employment, or be a public agency. Smaller employers are not covered. Second, the employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer within the last 12 months, and have worked for the employer for at least 12 months.
Under the FMLA, employers must maintain existing health insurance benefits during the leave period. The employee is entitled to retain other job-related benefits upon returning to work, and is entitled to retain the same or a similar position. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for taking FMLA leave.
If you been denied FMLA leave or discriminated or retaliated against for taking FMLA leave, contact the attorneys at Abney & McCarty, PLLC online or call us at (502) 459-4108 to schedule a free consultation.