Hiring a Dallas employment attorney for FMLA claims
FMLA, the Family Medical Leave Act, is an important piece of legislation to protect an employee’s right to medical leave at many employers. FMLA contains a range of technical requirements to ensure employers comply with the protected medical leave. When an employer fails to meet these technical requirements and abuses the employee for invoking FMLA the employee can run into problems. Employers retaliate and interfere with FMLA rights. This can result in demotions, pay cuts, loss of benefits, wrongful termination and other employment consequences. When this occurs, you should contact a Dallas employment attorney like Adam Kielich to help you protect your employment rights under FMLA. Today’s post will discuss FMLA claims, why hiring an attorney might be helpful and the remedies available in an FMLA lawsuit.
Common FMLA claims in Dallas and Fort Worth
FMLA claims generally come in two varieties: interference and retaliation. Interference claims generally occur when the employer interferes with taking FMLA leave, such as denying leave, refusing to cooperate in FMLA requests and improperly contacting the employee while on FMLA leave. FMLA retaliation claims generally occur at work when the employee returns from FMLA leave or after requesting FMLA leave. Retaliation claims under FMLA include hostile work environment, demotions, wrongful termination, pay cuts, benefit reductions, etc. They may arise after the employee returns from FMLA leave or when then employee requests leave, even if the employee is denied leave.
The most common FMLA retaliation claims arise as wrongful termination. Here the employee returns from leave or requests leave and is discharged for requesting or taking FMLA. The employer often conjures a false reason to mask the wrongful termination, such as poor performance or absenteeism. This is known as “pretext” for the termination.
Interference claims often involve the technical requirements for FMLA. In these types of claims the employee often alleges the employer refused FMLA leave by not complying with specific timing or documentary regulations. As a result of the interference, the employee could not take FMLA or could not receive the proper medical care intended.
In any case, an employee who believes he or she has an FMLA claims should speak with a Dallas employment attorney.
Why hire a Dallas employment attorney for FMLA claims
Dallas employment attorneys routinely help clients with FMLA claims, both interference and retaliation. There is a good reason for this above and beyond normal reasons to hire a labor lawyer for an employment claim. FMLA claims are complex. If you read FMLA judicial opinions you will find many of the cases turn on technical FMLA regulations. Even employer-side defense firms, some of the biggest in the nation, gets these wrong. These are very good employment attorneys with a lot of experience, training and resources. If they can blow it so often, one must seriously consider the affects of trying an FMLA claim without an attorney.
You might ask: what can an employment attorney do for me?
A Fort Worth or Dallas employment attorney can provide three key services:
- Assess the merits of a claim;
- Advice on next steps in an FMLA situation;
- Prosecute or litigate FMLA claims.
One of the greatest problems with FMLA claims is that not all claims are a good fit for a lawsuit. There are many reasons for this.
- The employee may not have the financial resources to proceed;
- The employee’s claim may be good but not great;
- The financials may not tilt in favor of spending the money to litigate;
- The technical details involved may make the case more complicated than what the facts can prove;
- The employee would rather not spend years in litigation;
- The employee wants a different resolution.
What remedies are available in an FMLA lawsuit?
In most FMLA lawsuits in Fort Worth or Dallas there are only a few types of relief granted to a plaintiff. The most common types are lost wages and attorney’s fees. Lost wages include what has been lost up to the point the plaintiff receives recovery (back pay) plus future wages lost due to a demotion or wrongful termination (front pay). Attorney’s fees are awardable to the prevailing party. In some FMLA cases the employee may recover liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are like punitive damages. They may be awarded up to twice actual damages. Other types of financial relief include court costs and mental anguish.
In rare cases an employee may prefer reinstatement over monetary recovery. Reinstatement puts the employee in the position he or she would have if not for the employer’s bad acts. Reinstatement is a rare remedy. Often employees do not want to return to a job where they were fired or demoted. That makes tremendous sense. When employees want reinstatement a problem often arises that the employer filled the position with another employee. That means reinstated the harmed employee bumps the innocent replacement employee to a lost job opportunity. Judges do not like doing this without good reason. Often courts do not order reinstatement for this reason. When reinstatement occurs it is often because:
- The employer has a suitable opening for the employee; or
- The parties agreed to a remedy that avoids harming an innocent employee.
If you believe you have an FMLA claim, contact The Kielich Law Firm to speak with Adam Kielich, Dallas employment attorney.
Adam Kielich is an employment attorney, divorce lawyer and principal attorney at The Kielich Law Firm in Bedford, Texas. The Kielich Law Firm represents clients in employment law and family law matters across the Dallas and Fort Worth area. Attorney Adam Kielich helps clients with employment discrimination, wrongful termination, overtime pay, FMLA, contested and uncontested divorce, modifications, QDROs and more.