If It Concerns Your Employment, It Concerns Me

Florida FMLA Lawyer

Protecting Employee’s FMLA Rights

If you work for the government or a private employer with more than 50 employees, it’s very likely you are eligible to take an unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks and still keep your job. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to employees who have been with the company for a year or more and who themselves have a medical condition or who need to care for a family member who needs help.

If your employer fails to comply with their obligations under the FMLA (e.g. refusing to provide leave, retaliating against an employee for taking FMLA leave, etc.), you may be entitled to compensation from your employer.

If you are an employee in Florida and need help with an FMLA claim, contact Yormak Employment & Disability Law today. We are a Florida-based law firm that specializes in employment and disability law, and our Florida FMLA attorney, Benjamin Yormak, is one of the few board-certified employment law experts in Florida. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

Who is Eligible for FMLA Leave?

To be eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, an employee must meet the following criteria:

  • The employee must work for an employer that is covered by the FMLA. This includes private sector employers with 50 or more employees, as well as public agencies (regardless of the number of employees).
  • The employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and have at least 1,250 hours of service in the 12 months preceding the start of the leave. These requirements apply to most employees, although there are some exceptions for employees of local educational agencies (e.g., public schools).
  • The employee must work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles. This requirement applies to private-sector employers only.
  • The employee must have a qualifying need for leave.

If an employee meets these eligibility requirements, they are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. Employees who take FMLA leave are entitled to return to their same or an equivalent job after the leave is over, and are also entitled to continue their health insurance coverage while on leave.

Which Conditions Qualify For The Family Medical Leave Act?

The specific conditions that qualify for FMLA leave depend on the type of leave being taken.

There are several types of FMLA leave including:

  1. Leave for the employee’s own serious health condition
  2. Leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition
  3. Leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child
  4. Leave for a qualifying exigency (i.e., certain urgent needs that arise when a family member is on active military duty)

Leave for the Employee’s Own Serious Health Condition

An employee may take FMLA leave for their own serious health condition if the condition meets the following criteria:

  • It prevents you from working three consecutive days or more. (You must also have either two doctor’s visits or one doctor’s visit and a prescription.)
  • It involves inpatient care (i.e., an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility)
  • It requires continuing treatment by a healthcare provider (e.g., medication, therapy, or other treatment that is ongoing and prescribed by a healthcare provider)

Examples of serious health conditions that may qualify for FMLA leave include:

  • A serious illness or injury that requires hospitalization or inpatient care
  • Chronic conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, cancer) that require ongoing treatment and may flare up and require leave
  • Pregnancy and related medical conditions (e.g., morning sickness, prenatal care)
  • Mental health conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety) that require ongoing treatment and may flare up and require leave

Leave to Care for a Family Member

An employee may also take FMLA leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition if the family member meets the following criteria:

  • They require inpatient care (i.e., an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility)
  • They require continuing treatment by a healthcare provider (e.g., medication, therapy, or other treatment that is ongoing and prescribed by a healthcare provider)

A “family member” for purposes of FMLA leave includes:

  • The employee’s spouse
  • The employee’s children (including biological, adopted, and foster children)
  • The employee’s parents (including biological, adoptive, step, and foster parents).

Examples of serious health conditions that may qualify for FMLA leave to care for a family member include:

  • A serious illness or injury that requires hospitalization or inpatient care
  • Chronic conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, cancer) that require ongoing treatment and may flare up and require leave
  • Mental health conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety) that require ongoing treatment and may flare up and require leave
  • A serious health condition that requires the employee to provide ongoing care and support for the family member (e.g., a parent with Alzheimer’s disease)

Leave for the Birth, Adoption, or Foster Placement of a Child

An employee may also take FMLA leave to bond with a new child, either through birth, adoption, or foster placement. This leave may be taken within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster placement.

Leave for a Qualifying Exigency

Qualifying exigency leave allows employees to take time off from work to address certain urgent needs that arise when a family member is on active duty in the military or has been notified of an impending call to active duty.

Qualifying exigency leave is available for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period, and may be taken for the following reasons:

  • Short-notice deployment (i.e., deployment on less than seven days’ notice)
  • Military events and related activities (e.g., ceremonies, programs, and informational briefings)
  • Childcare and school activities (e.g., arranging for alternative childcare, attending school conferences)
  • Financial and legal arrangements (e.g., preparing and executing financial and legal documents, obtaining military records)
  • Counseling (e.g., for the employee, the employee’s spouse, or the employee’s children)
  • Rest and recuperation (i.e., up to 15 days of leave to spend with a covered military member who is on rest and recuperation leave during a period of deployment)
  • Other events (e.g., attending post-deployment events, addressing urgent family issues that arise because of the covered military member’s active duty status)

Employee Rights Under the FMLA

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to the following rights:

  • The right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for certain family and medical reasons. These reasons include the employee’s own serious health condition, the care of a family member with a serious health condition, the birth or adoption of a child, and qualifying exigencies (i.e., certain urgent needs that arise when a family member is on active military duty).
  • The right to continue their health insurance coverage while on FMLA leave. An employer must maintain the employee’s health insurance coverage while they are on leave in the same manner as if the employee were still working.
  • The right to return to the same or an equivalent job after the leave is over. An employer must restore the employee to the same or an equivalent job (i.e., one that is equivalent in terms of pay, benefits, and working conditions) after the leave is over.
  • The right to be free from interference or retaliation. An employer is prohibited from interfering with the employee’s right to take FMLA leave or retaliating against the employee for taking FMLA leave.

Employer Obligations Under the FMLA

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), covered employers have the following obligations:

  • To inform employees of their FMLA rights and responsibilities. Employers must provide employees with a notice of their FMLA rights and responsibilities, either through a general notice or through individual notices as leave is requested.
  • To maintain the employee’s job and benefits while on FMLA leave. Employers must maintain the employee’s job and benefits (e.g., health insurance, retirement plan contributions) while the employee is on FMLA leave in the same manner as if the employee were still working.
  • To restore the employee to the same or an equivalent job after the leave is over. Employers must restore the employee to the same or an equivalent job (i.e., one that is equivalent in terms of pay, benefits, and working conditions) after the leave is over.
  • To refrain from interfering with the employee’s right to take FMLA leave or retaliating against the employee for taking FMLA leave. Employers are prohibited from interfering with the employee’s right to take FMLA leave or retaliating against the employee for taking FMLA leave.

What Remedies Are Available if Your Employer Violates Your Rights?

There are several remedies available to employees in Florida whose rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) have been violated by their employer. Some possible remedies include:

  • Back pay: Employees may be entitled to back pay (i.e., the wages and benefits they would have received if the FMLA violation had not occurred) if they have suffered financial losses as a result of the violation.
  • Reinstatement: Employees may be entitled to be reinstated to their same or an equivalent job if they have been terminated or demoted as a result of the FMLA violation.
  • Front pay: If an employee is unable to be reinstated to their same job, they may be entitled to front pay (i.e., the wages and benefits they would have received if they had been able to continue working) until they are able to secure another job.
  • Injunctive relief: Employees may be able to obtain an injunction ordering their employer to take certain actions (e.g., reinstating the employee, providing the employee with their full FMLA leave entitlements) to remedy the FMLA violation.
  • Liquidated damages: Employees may be entitled to liquidated damages (i.e., an amount equal to the back pay they are owed) if their employer’s FMLA violation was willful.
  • Attorney’s fees and costs: Employees may be able to recover their attorney’s fees and costs if they prevail in an FMLA lawsuit.

The specific remedies that are available in a given case will depend on the circumstances and the specific violations that have occurred.

Making an FMLA Claim

If an employee in Florida believes that their employer has violated their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), there are several steps that they can take:

  1. Gather information: The employee should gather any relevant information about the alleged violation, including documentation of the request for leave, any communication with the employer about the leave, and any documentation of the employer’s response to the request.
  2. File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor: The employee can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which is responsible for enforcing the FMLA.
  3. Consult with an employment law attorney: The employee may wish to consult with an employment law attorney for further assistance in pursuing an FMLA claim. An attorney can help the employee understand their options and advise them on the best course of action.
  4. File a lawsuit: If the employee decides to pursue a lawsuit, they must file the lawsuit within two years of the date of the alleged violation, unless the violation was willful, in which case the time limit is three years.

How Can an Employment Lawyer Help With Your FMLA Claim?

An employment lawyer can play a key role in pursuing a claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). An employment lawyer can help an employee understand their rights and options under the FMLA and advise them on the best course of action. Some specific ways in which an employment lawyer can assist with an FMLA claim include:

  1. Reviewing the claim: An employment lawyer can review the employee’s case to determine whether there are grounds for an FMLA claim and whether the employee has a strong case.
  2. Gathering evidence: An employment lawyer can help the employee gather the necessary evidence to support their claim, including documents and witness statements.
  3. Filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor: An employment lawyer can assist the employee in filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which is responsible for enforcing the FMLA.
  4. Negotiating a settlement: If the employee and the employer are willing to try to resolve the matter outside of court, an employment lawyer can help the employee negotiate a settlement that is fair and just.
  5. Filing a lawsuit: If the employee decides to pursue a lawsuit, an employment lawyer can represent the employee in court and advocate for their rights.

Get Help From an Employment Law Expert

At Yormak Employment & Disability Law, we understand the complexities of FMLA claims and are prepared to assist you in pursuing your rights. We have extensive experience representing employees in Florida and our team includes one of the few board-certified employment law experts in the state. Contact us today for a confidential consultation. We will work diligently to ensure that you obtain the right to take FMLA leave, or be restored to the same or equivalent job after leave is over. We will also seek compensation for your employer’s violation of FMLA. Let us help you protect your rights. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.

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