Legal Guide

When It Is Necessary to Speak with an FMLA Attorney

When taking medical or disability leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), do you need to consult an attorney? Most employees should say "no." When it comes to the FMLA, the federal statute requiring employers to provide time off for health and caregiving reasons, it is meant to be a benefit to employees. Employees who request FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) leave must be given information about their rights and responsibilities under the legislation, as well as papers to fill out and procedures to follow when they return after time away from work.

Some employers are aware of the rules, but not all of them obey them. An experienced employment lawyer can help you if your employer refuses to provide you time off, considers your FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) leave as a time off against you, or pressures or refuses to return you to work when your leave is finished. You should seek legal counsel if you find yourself in any of the following scenarios when your employer has violated the FMLA.

Medical or Disability-Related Time Off Is Denied

Did your employer deny you the time off you were entitled to under the Family and Medical Leave Act? Here are a few instances in which a company can violate the law regarding leave eligibility:

Demanding an excessive amount of advance notice

You are required to provide a notice of at least 30 days for any "foreseeable" leave under the FMLA. If you need time off for an unexpected reason, you must offer as little notice as possible. Some employers try to make their employees give notice longer than what is required by law, or they refuse to approve legitimate leave requests.

Specifying a certain sort of notice

There is no requirement that you ask for "family and medical leave" to be authorized by the FMLA. It is your employer's responsibility to determine whether or not you are covered by the FMLA if you tell your manager that you need time off to care for a child or are pregnant.

If Your Employer Violates the FMLA

Employees on FMLA leave are frequently subject to the following types of exploitation by their employer:

Refusing to pay for insurance

As long as you continue to pay your regular portion of the premiums throughout your FMLA absence, you have the legal right to continue receiving the benefits of your group health insurance plan. Your employer must notify you in advance, in writing, of the method and date for which you must make premium payments. Due to unpaid FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) leave, employers can't deduct premiums from paychecks. In order for your employer to terminate your insurance, you must be at least 30 days past due on your payments and have been given notice and an opportunity to make things right.

To remind you to return

It is possible that your employer will inquire about your return-to-work plans on a regular basis. It's best to consult with an attorney if your employer is making unreasonable demands on your leave, such as being required to work while you're away or refusing to leave you alone.

What if you or your employer can't do your job?

Your employer may ask for medical documentation confirming you are fit to work again at the end of your FMLA leave. As long as you're still able to do your job, your employer must give you accommodation for your impairment, unless doing so would cause an undue burden on your employer. It's not the FMLA that gives you this right; it's the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you believe your employer is discriminating against you because of your disability, you should see an FMLA lawyer.


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