When an employee suffers a serious medical condition or faces a close family member’s serious illness or injuries, it can be difficult to navigate work requirements. However, these types of situations should not ruin someone’s career. Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act to protect qualifying employees when they go through these types of situations. The FMLA in Pennsylvania gives qualifying employees who work for covered employers the right to take job-protected leave under the FMLA when their need for leave from work meets the criteria. Unfortunately, some employers violate the FMLA. An FMLA lawyer in PA at Swartz Swidler can help you protect your rights if your employer has violated the FMLA.
Understanding the FMLA
The Family and Medical Leave Act does not cover all employers in Pennsylvania. Instead, it only applies to employers that have 50 or more employees who work within a 75-mile radius of each other. Even if you work for a covered employer, you must also meet employee-specific requirements for coverage under the FMLA. Covered employees include those who work for covered employers and:
- Have worked for the employers for at least one year
- Have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months before the requested leave
- Have a qualifying reason for taking leave from work under the FMLA
Leave under the FMLA is unpaid, but it is job-protected. You can take up to 12 weeks of leave under this law in 12 months as long as your reason for leave qualifies under this law. When your leave is over, your employer must return you to your previous job or to one that is substantially similar in terms of duties, pay, and hours.
What Are the Qualifying Reasons for FMLA Leave?
Qualifying employees who work for employers covered by the FMLA must be granted leave when they request it for the following reasons:
- The birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a new child
- The employee’s serious medical condition
- A spouse’s, child’s, or parent’s serious medical condition
- An immediate family member’s upcoming military deployment
- An immediate family member’s service-related injury suffered while serving in the military
Serious medical conditions are those that require continuing treatment or an overnight hospital stay and prevent the employee from performing the duties of their job.
When a Request Must Be Given
Employees must notify their employers at least 30 days in advance when the need for leave is foreseeable. For example, if you have surgery scheduled, you should give your employer at least 30 days’ notice. If you experience a medical emergency that you couldn’t possibly foresee, you must give notice as soon as possible. For example, if you are seriously injured in a car accident, you should notify your employer as soon as you can but won’t be required to give 30 days’ notice.
What Are Examples of FMLA Violations?
Employers might violate the FMLA by denying valid leave requests or retaliating against employees for taking leave. Employers might also violate the FMLA by rescinding their approval for leave or asking the employee to get an excessive number of statements from their doctor.
Can Your Employer Fire You for Taking Leave Under the FMLA?
Your employer can’t fire you for exercising your right to leave under the FMLA. If your employer terminated you from your job for using your benefits under the FMLA for a valid reason, you can file a claim against your employer with the help of an FMLA lawyer in PA at Swartz Swidler.
If your reason for leave is to care for a family member’s service-related injury, you have the right to take up to 26 weeks off from work in 12 months. Some employers are unaware that employees can take more leave for this purpose. An attorney can help to educate your employer and protect your rights.
Why Should I Talk to an FMLA Attorney Near Me?
An employment lawyer who represents people with FMLA-related issues understands all of the types of problems employees can face. An attorney can help to verify your eligibility and the completeness of your request for leave under your company’s policy and the requirements of the FMLA. They can also help you write your request in the way that is likeliest to secure approval. When your leave is over, you might find that your job was not saved, or your employer has reduced your salary. These are both violations of the FMLA’s requirements. A lawyer can help you file a lawsuit against your employer to protect your rights and will work to secure a full settlement of your claim to compensate you for your lost benefits, wages, and other losses.
Damages in an FMLA Claim
If your employer violated your rights under the FMLA, your attorney might help you recover the following damages:
- Back pay and front pay
- Job reinstatement
- Lost benefits
You might be entitled to additional damages of two times your economic damages and attorney’s fees. Your attorney can analyze your case to ensure you pursue all of the damages to which you should be entitled and build the strongest possible claim on your behalf.
Talk to an Experienced FMLA Lawyer
If you believe your rights under the FMLA were violated by your current or former employer, you should consult an experienced FMLA lawyer at the law firm of Swartz Swidler. We have represented employees and fought for their rights for years and can help you understand your rights and legal options. Call us at (856) 685-7420 for a free consultation.