Fort Worth and Dallas FMLA lawyers represent clients in FMLA claims in Texas. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law protecting employee rights to medical leave. The Family Medical Leave Act protects the right to return from leave to the same position you had before leave or a position similar to the one you held before leave. If your employer interferes with your FMLA rights or retaliates against you for exercising your FMLA rights you are entitled to recover from your employer for lost pay, lost benefits and other financial harm.Working with an FMLA attorney is critical to putting yourself in the best position to defend your rights against your employer’s FMLA violations.
FMLA guidelines for protected medical leave of absence
FMLA protects the right of eligible employees of covered employees to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave within a twelve month period. At the end of the employee’s Family Medical Leave Act protected leave the employee must be restored to the same or similar position as he or she would have if not for the leave of absence. Employees are eligible for FMLA leave for the following reasons:
- The birth of a child and bonding with a newborn within one year of birth
- Bonding time with a child placed in the employee’s home due to foster care or adoption within one year of placement
- The employee’s serious medical condition that makes the employee unable to perform his or her job
- A serious medical condition of a spouse, child, or parent
- A qualifying exigency due to the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is a military member on covered active duty.
Additionally, an employee may receive up to twenty-six weeks of unpaid leave for care of a military servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the child, spouse, parent, or next of kin to the servicemember.
FMLA leave periods may be continuous or intermittent. Texas employees may take continuous periods of FMLA leave whether it is one single block of leave or several long continuous periods. Employees in Texas may also take intermittent leave under FMLA. Intermittent FMLA leave includes shorter periods of leave, such as full or partial day absences. An employee might take intermittent leave for scheduled medical treatment or short term flare ups of a serious medical condition.
Texas employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they meet each of three conditions:
- The employee is an eligible employee under FMLA
- The employer is a covered employer under FMLA
- The employee has a qualifying reason for FMLA leave
When an employee requests FMLA leave the employer often requests the Texas employee complete FMLA forms including medical certification of a serious health condition. At this time the employer will typically calculate whether the employee meets the other requirements for Family Medical Leave Act leave. The employee’s failure to provide the required certification can result in the employer appropriately denying FMLA leave. The employer may also violate the employee’s rights under the statute by improperly denying leave despite the employee timely and completely providing certification to the employer.
FMLA Violations in Texas
FMLA violations arise in one of two ways: interference and retaliation. An employer may violate your FMLA rights in many ways–it may even both interfere and retaliate for requesting or taking FMLA leave.
FMLA makes it, “unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise” the employee’s FMLA rights. Such action gives the employee a claim for FMLA interference. These claims are strict liability claims–the employer’s intent is irrelevant. A violation occurs when the employer interferes with the employee’s rights even if the employer was unaware its conduct was unlawful. Common FMLA interference claims include:
- Wrongfully denying the employee FMLA leave when eligible and requested for a qualifying reason
- Insisting the employee complete certification requirements beyond the scope of the statute
- Preventing an employee from taking intermittent leave when needed
- Changing the employee’s schedule to make leave periods difficult or more costly for the employee
- Delaying approval of FMLA leave beyond the statutory time periods
- Harassing you or demanding you perform work during leave periods
If your employer interferes with your FMLA leave then you should contact an employment lawyer right away to discuss your options. Contact The Kielich Law Firm by completing the contact form below.
FMLA retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against the employee for requesting or taking FMLA leave. In a retaliation claim the employee must prove the employer took adverse action against the employee because the employee exercised his or her FMLA rights. The employee must prove what happened and why it happened. Common ways employers retaliate include:
- Firing the employee
- Demoting the employee or cutting job responsibilities to reduce the prestige of the employee’s position
- Cutting pay or benefits
- Harassing the employee/hostile work environment
- Giving the employee a negative performance review for absences related to FMLA leave
- Giving the employee a negative performance review unrelated to the employee’s actual performance
You have remedies under the Family Medical Leave Act if your employer refuses to grant a legitimate request for FMLA or takes adverse action because you took FMLA leave. The most common remedy for a Family Medical Leave Act violation is recovering a monetary award for lost compensation and other financial harm. An employee can also recover liquidated damages under the Family Medical Leave Act. You can also recover attorney’s fees and court costs so you should contact The Kielich Law Firm for representation in your Texas FMLA claims.
If an employee was removed from a position following FMLA leave or a request for leave the employee may also reinstatement; but this is a less common remedy.