The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a United States federal law that provides eligible employees with job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. Enacted in 1993, the FMLA is designed to help balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families and personal health. The FMLA is a significant piece of legislation that has had a notable impact on the rights of employees to balance work and family responsibilities or address medical issues without fear of losing their jobs. It’s important for both employers and employees to be aware of the provisions of the FMLA to ensure compliance and understanding of their rights and obligations.
When You are Eligible for FMLA Leave?
To be eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, an employee must meet certain criteria.
- The FMLA applies to private-sector employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, public agencies (including local, state, and federal employers), and local education agencies (schools).
- An employee must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months to be eligible. These 12 months don’t need to be consecutive but must occur within the past seven years.
- The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding the leave. This equates to an average of about 24 hours per week over the 12 months.
- The employee must work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. This is relevant for determining employer coverage.
- FMLA leave is available for specific qualifying reasons
- The birth and care of a newborn child.
- The placement of an adopted or foster child.
- To care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
- For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job.
- Any qualifying exigency arising from the fact that a covered military family member is on covered active duty or has been notified of an impending call to covered active duty.
- Eligible employees can take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin.
Once an employee meets these eligibility requirements, they can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for qualifying reasons, and their job and health benefits are generally protected during the leave period. It’s important for employees to communicate with their employers about their need for FMLA leave and provide any necessary documentation, such as medical certifications, to support their request.
Reasons to be Fired When You Are on FMLA
While the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects eligible employees’ right to take leave for qualifying medical and family reasons, there are certain circumstances under which an employer may legally terminate an employee on FMLA leave. It’s crucial to note that the termination must be for reasons unrelated to the employee’s use of FMLA leave. Here are some situations where termination may occur:
- Job Elimination of Layoffs
- Violations of Company Policies
- Performance Issues
- Exhaustion of FMLA Leave
- Inability to Perform Essential Job Functions
- Fraud or Misrepresentation
It’s crucial for employers to handle terminations carefully and in compliance with employment laws, ensuring that the termination is not based on the employee’s use of FMLA leave. Employers should document legitimate reasons for termination and be prepared to demonstrate that the decision was unrelated to the employee’s FMLA-protected activities.
Fired While On FMLA – Is It Legal?
Terminating an employee while on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) raises legal considerations. In many cases, it can be illegal if the termination is specifically because the employee is on FMLA leave. The FMLA provides certain protections for eligible employees, and employers are generally prohibited from interfering with an employee’s right to take FMLA leave or retaliating against an employee for exercising their FMLA rights.
The FMLA provides eligible employees with the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for qualifying family and medical reasons, including the employee’s serious health condition or the care of a family member with a serious health condition. During FMLA leave, the employee’s job is generally protected. Upon return from FMLA leave, the employee is entitled to be restored to the same or an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.
The FMLA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their FMLA rights. This includes termination, demotion, or any other adverse employment action because the employee took FMLA leave. While employers cannot terminate an employee solely for taking FMLA leave, there may be circumstances where an employee can be terminated for reasons unrelated to FMLA. However, employers must be able to demonstrate that the termination was for legitimate, non-FMLA-related reasons.
Employers are generally required to notify employees of their FMLA rights and responsibilities. Employees must also notify their employers when they intend to take FMLA leave and, in some cases, provide medical documentation.
Suppose you believe you have been terminated unlawfully while on FMLA leave. In that case, it’s advisable to consult with a seasoned wrongful termination attorney in Los Angeles from Azadian Law Group, PC, to assess the specific details of your situation. An attorney can help you understand your rights, determine if there is evidence of FMLA retaliation, and guide you on potential legal recourse. Remember that employment laws can vary, so seeking advice tailored to your jurisdiction is important.
What Can I Do If I Am Fired for FMLA Leave?
You may have legal recourse if you believe you have been unlawfully terminated for taking Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.
- Understand Your Rights
- Document Everything
- Review Company Policies and Procedures
- Consult an Employment Attorney
- File a Complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
- Explore Mediation or Negotiation
- Consider Legal Action
- Maintain a Record of Damages
- Review State Laws
Remember, employment laws can vary, so it’s important to consult with a legal professional to understand the specific details of your case. An experienced wrongful termination attorney can provide personalized advice based on the circumstances of your termination and help you navigate the legal process.