Know Your Rights Under the Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave for a variety of reasons, mostly relevant to caregiving or dealing with a medical issue.

Employers are required by law to provide this leave, and to ensure that at the end of it, you return to the same job with the same salary, duties, location, and benefits. But many employers don’t comply perfectly with this law, and some employees face retaliation for taking FMLA leave.

Here are some questions to ask when considering whether your FMLA rights are being violated.

Are You Eligible for FMLA Leave?

Not everyone, unfortunately, qualifies for FMLA coverage—and not all employees have to offer it. Employers who have to provide FMLA leave include:

  • Private-sector employers with 50 or more employees who’ve worked 20 or more work weeks in the current or previous year.
  • Public federal, state, or local government agencies, regardless of size.
  • Public and private elementary and secondary schools, regardless of size.

Employees have to meet certain criteria, too. To qualify for FMLA leave, you must:

  • Work for an employer required to provide FMLA leave (see above).
  • Have worked at least 12 months for that employer, and at least 1,250 hours for that employer during those 12 months.
  • Work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees working within a 75-mile radius.

What Are Your Rights Under FMLA?

All eligible employees are allowed to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. Your job or an equivalent job, with the same salary, benefits, duties, and location, must be available for you to return to. If you find yourself demoted or your salary reduced, that’s retaliation.

Some reasons you can take FMLA leave include:

  • To care for a newborn baby or recover from birth.
  • To care for a family member with a serious health issue.
  • To deal with your own health condition that makes you unable to perform your job.
  • To deal with issues that arise as a consequence of a family member on active duty in the military.

What Options Do I Have for Taking FMLA Leave?

As an employee, you have the choice to take FMLA leave in large lump sums of time—or you can divide up your leave by working fewer days per week or fewer hours in a day. This is referred to as an intermittent schedule.

Employers are not allowed to make it more difficult for you to choose an intermittent schedule—such as demoting you, or overloading you with more work than you can accomplish during that time. Those both may be considered retaliation.

What to Do if You Suspect FMLA Retaliation

If you believe your employer is retaliating against you for taking FMLA leave, you should talk to an experienced employment lawyer.

Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us atmurphy@phillyemploymentlawyer.com for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.