Fort Worth employment attorney explains what is FMLA
FMLA is the Family Medical Leave Act, a federal law that provides certain employees leave protections. FMLA provides twelve weeks of leave in a twelve month period. The twelve month period can bea fixed twelve month period, such as the calendar year, or a rolling twelve month period so the beginning of an FMLA leave starts a rolling twelve month period.
To be eligible for FMLA leave your employer must employ at least fifty employees in at least twenty weeks in the year or prior year of the leave request. As a result, FMLA typically does not apply to small employers. FMLA regulations can be confusing. If you are in Dallas or Fort Worth and dealing with an FMLA situation it may be useful to work with an employment lawyer. If you requested FMLA leave and the employer wrongfully denied your leave then you definitely need to talk to an employment attorney about FMLA.
FMLA Leave Eligibility in Texas
FMLA leave is available for four conditions:
- The birth of a child to the employee, regardless of whether the employee is the mother or father;
- The employee is adopting a child;
- The employee has a serious medical condition requiring leave; or
- For the employee to take care of a family member with a serious medical condition.
FMLA leave can be continuous or intermittent. If FMLA leave is for the childbirth or adoption, it must be continuous leave. If FMLA leave is for the employee’s serious health condition or a family member’s condition, the leave can be intermittent so the employee can break up the leave time as appropriate for the condition. After the leave ends, the employee is entitled to return to the same job at the same position, shift and wages, or a substantially similar job with the same benefits, pay and conditions of employment.
FMLA Certification in Texas
An employer can require certification of the condition. In the case of a serious medical condition of an employee or employee’s family member, the certification must be completed by a medical professional and must describe the condition. An employer can contest the certification on narrow grounds. The employer cannot arbitrarily deny certification. An employee failing to provide a complete certification form, if requested by the employer, will not be protected by FMLA. An employee also must provide notice to the employer of an upcoming need for leave if possible. For example, a pregnant employee can inform the employer that childbirth is expected in a certain time period; however, an employee who has a heart attack cannot give prior notice.
FMLA leave is not paid leave, although an employer can chose to pay for leave time. Additionally, an employer can require the employee to exhaust sick and vacation time at the beginning of FMLA leave. The employer must also maintain benefits for the employee, including health insurance. The employee is still responsible for paying premiums.
FMLA Violation Remedies in Fort Worth and Dallas
FMLA provides remedies for employees when employers violate FMLA by refusing leave or discriminating against an employee for requesting or exercising FMLA rights. Sometimes employers deny leave because they improperly reject the serious medical condition or because they want the employee to work during the requested leave period. Other employers will refuse leave to try to force an employee to choose between the FMLA leave or quitting. Each of these situations violates FMLA. Employers also violate FMLA when they refuse to reinstate an employee after leave, give the employee an inferior position upon returning, or treat the employee poorly based upon the leave, such as giving the employee less favorable work assignments, or lesser bonuses. FMLA also prohibits retaliation, including opposing FMLA violations and reporting violations, even if you are not the employee requesting leave.
For more information about FMLA eligibility, check out this video:
Adam Kielich is a Dallas and Fort Worth employment lawyer, 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.