One of the biggest problems that arise when you or a loved one is seriously ill is the impact that it has on your attendance at work. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one law that can provide you with serious protection when you or a loved one becomes seriously ill. If you or a family member become seriously ill, and you are facing pressure at work because of your need to care for yourself or a loved one, contact El-Hag & Associates, P.C today for a free consultation.
We have brought lawsuits against employers who denied our clients their protections under the FMLA with positive results. However, many times our clients call us after they have lost their jobs. Had they contacted us before they lost their job, we may have been able to intervene and help them keep their jobs, instead of having to file a lawsuit to correct the injustice that occurred. So, please call today if you are struggling with these issues. If you are just researching your rights, the following information should be helpful.
What is the Family & Medical Leave Act?
The FMLA is a federal law. The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.
What protections does the Family & Medical Leave Act provide?
Eligible employees are entitled to take 12 workweeks of time off from work for:
- the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
- the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
- to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
- a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
- any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty,” or
- Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).
Check out this blog post to learn how you can protect your medical insurance using the FMLA and Americans with Disabilities Act.
When am I protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act?
You are covered under the FMLA if:
(1) your employer employs 50 or more employees (this doesn’t have to be all at the same facility),
(2) you have worked for your employer for at least 12 months (this does not have to be consecutive months),
(3) you worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 month period immediately before you are attempting to use FMLA leave, and
(4) you work at a location within the area that the employer has at least 50 employees working. If all of these conditions are met then you are entitled to FMLA leave.
What can I win if I sue my employer under the Family & Medical Leave Act?
1) Lost wages and benefits. Generally, you must be made whole for the losses you suffered because of your employer’s discriminatory actions. Reimbursement for lost pay and benefits is one of the available categories of damages.
However, the reimbursement of lost wages and benefits is bittersweet because the law deducts any other income that you receive. So generally, unemployment benefits you received and income from new employment will be deducted from any award of lost pay and benefits. Moreover, if you secure a new job that is comparable to the job you lost, you do not get any more back pay and benefits.
** You have a legal obligation to find a new job and limit your lost pay and benefits. If you do not take steps to find a new job, you can get no back pay whatsoever!! This is known as “mitigation of damages”. It seems very unfair that your boss who discriminated against you gets to benefit from you finding new work, but that’s the way the law goes.
2) Costs of finding a new job or remedying the discriminatory conduct. Because the law is designed to make you whole for your losses, you are entitled to recover any costs that you incurred in trying to recover from the discriminatory act. So your travel expenses that you incurred driving to job interviews or necessary and reasonable relocation costs are an example of the type of costs you can recover.
3) Liquidated Damages. Liquidated damages means an amount equal to the money you lost. For every dollar you lost, you are entitled to receive an additional dollar as liquidated damages.
4) Reasonable attorney fees & costs. If you are found to be a prevailing party after winning an FMLA lawsuit, you are entitled to recover reasonable costs and attorney fees that were incurred in bringing the lawsuit.