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What To Do if Your Employer Denied Your FMLA Request

June 30, 2023 Family and Medical Leave Act Claims

You Have Options.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is designed to give eligible employees the ability to take unpaid leave to care for a family member or manage their own medical care, and have their job still available when they return. 

While not every employee is eligible for FMLA leave, it’s not unusual to hear that employers have denied leave even when the employee is eligible. If your employer has denied your leave, here are some things to know.

Are You Eligible for FMLA Leave?

The FMLA allows employees to take job-protected unpaid leave for a variety of reasons. Usually the leave period is twelve work weeks in any 12-month period, and the eligible reasons include:

  • To care for a newborn within a year of giving birth, or to care for an adopted or foster-care child within a year of placement in your home.
  • To care for a spouse, parent, or child with a serious medical condition.
  • To deal with your own serious medical condition that impedes your ability to perform your job.
  • To handle issues that arise from a spouse, parent, or child who is a military member on active deployment.
  • You also get 26 work weeks of leave during a 12-month period to care for a military spouse, child, parent or next of kin who has a serious illness or injury.

What Health Conditions Qualify?

Most instances of FMLA leave revolve around caring for yourself or a family member with a serious medical condition. But what qualifies as serious?

The law doesn’t list specific conditions, but it does provide some guidelines. Your condition can be classed as “serious” if it falls under one or more of the following descriptions:

  • It requires overnight stays in a medical facility.
  • It is incapacitating for more than three consecutive days.
  • It requires ongoing medical treatment.
  • It’s a chronic condition that occasionally incapacitates, and requires treatment at least twice a year.
  • If you or your family member is pregnant.

What Employers and Employees Are Covered Under FMLA? 

You’re eligible for FMLA leave if you’ve worked at least 12 months for your employer, you’ve worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months, and you work at a location where your company employs at least 50 people within a 75-mile radius.

What Leave Are You Entitled to Under FMLA? 

If you qualify for FMLA leave—you’ve worked the requisite number of hours, the employer is the requisite size, and your medical condition and family situation meets the standards—here are the benefits you’re entitled to: 

  • Your employer has to keep your health insurance going during the leave period. (You may have to continue paying your usual premiums).
  • Your employer must allow you to return to your old job or place you in a new role that’s nearly identical.
  • Your employer cannot retaliate against you for taking FMLA leave, such as by withholding promotions or raises, or firing or disciplining you.
  • Your employer must allow you to use paid time off in tandem with your FMLA leave to continue getting paid, if you have paid leave accrued.
  • Your employer must allow you to take your leave all in one period or broken up into smaller periods over the course of the year.

What To Do if Your Employer Denies Your FMLA Request

If you qualify for FMLA leave and your employer denies it, you have two routes to restitution: file an administrative complaint with the Department of Labor, or take your employer to court.

If you choose to file an administrative complaint, you will need to demonstrate that you are entitled to leave that your employer refused. Generally, it’s very helpful to speak to an attorney before beginning this process.

Your attorney can assess the situation, determine the extent of your employer’s law violation, and help you get restitution. If you choose to file with the Department of Labor, your attorney can help you make your case.

If it’s found that your employer violated the law, you may be entitled to certain damages including back pay, reinstatement at your job, intangible losses (which can be worth even more than back pay), and attorney fees.

We have helped hundreds of clients gain restitution for FMLA leave denial, and we can help you. Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at 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.