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FMLA Guide | FMLA Lawyer & Ohio FMLA Law Violation Attorney

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees up to 12 unpaid weeks off from work when they are unable to work because of serious illness, or after the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.

At Stepter Law Office, I represent eligible employees whose employers have unlawfully denied them FMLA leave. I also represent employees who were granted FMLA leave and then retaliated against for taking leave. FMLA lawyers play a crucial role in protecting employees’ rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, offering legal assistance in cases of job loss, discrimination, interference, or denial of entitled leave.

Denied Leave? Employment Terminated?

Contact FMLA Attorney Rayl L. Stepter to schedule a consultation.

Fighting for Your Rights Since 1993

As an FMLA lawyer with over three decades of experience, I have represented employees who have been demoted and/or terminated for taking time off work to care for an immediate family member or for their own serious medical condition.

What Is the FMLA?FMLA booklet

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a United States federal law enacted in 1993 to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It aims to promote the economic security and stability of families while accommodating the legitimate interests of employers.

Overview of the FMLA

Who is Eligible for FMLA leave?

To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must work for a covered employer, have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, have at least 1,250 hours of service in the 12 months before the leave, and work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

What Employers Are Subject to the FMLA?

FMLA applies to all public agencies, including state, local, and federal employers, and local education agencies (schools), as well as private-sector employers who employ 50 or more employees.

How Much FMLA Leave Are Eligible Employees Entitled to Take?

happy familyEligible employees can take up to twelve weeks of leave in a 12-month period for:

  • The birth and care of a newborn child within one year of birth,
  • The adoption or foster care placement of a child within one year of placement,
  • To care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition,
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of their job,
  • For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on “covered active duty” or call to covered active duty status.

Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on covered active duty or called to covered active duty status may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. The FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period. After I understand your circumstances, I can provide guidance regarding the leave to which you may be entitled.

Is My Job Protected Under the Family Medical Leave Act?

Upon return from FMLA leave, most employees must be restored to their original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions. It is crucial that employees are reinstated to their ‘same position’ or a comparable one, ensuring job protection under the FMLA. As an FMLA lawyer, I tenaciously fight to protect the interests of employees who are discriminated or retaliated against for taking leave.

Will I Lose My Health Benefits If I Take FMLA Leave?

No. During FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s health coverage under any “group health plan” on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work. If your employer threatens to discontinue your medical benefits, it is advisable to reach out to an FMLA attorney immediately to ensure your legal rights are not violated.

What Types of Leave Are Available Under the FMLA?

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to various types of leave to accommodate their personal and family health needs. These types of leave help employees balance work responsibilities with serious health conditions, family care, and military family obligations without fear of losing their jobs.

Here are the primary types of leave available under the FMLA:

Medical Leave for Employee’s Own Serious Health Condition

Employees can take leave for their own serious health conditions that make them unable to perform the essential functions of their jobs.

Family Care Leave

This type of leave allows employees to care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition.

Maternity/Paternity Leave

Employees can use FMLA leave for the birth of a child and to bond with the newborn within one year of birth. This leave also covers situations involving the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, and to bond with that child within one year of placement.

pregnant woman working

Qualifying Exigency Leave

For relatives of military members, the FMLA provides leave for urgent needs related to a family member’s active duty or call to active duty in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation. These exigencies may include issues related to military short-notice deployment, military events and related activities, childcare and school activities, financial and legal arrangements, counseling, rest and recuperation, post-deployment activities, and additional activities where employers and employees agree on the timing and duration of the leave.

Military Caregiver Leavemilitary service member saluting an American flaq

The FMLA includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness. The service member can be the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin.

Do I Have to Take FMLA Leave Consecutively?

No. FMLA leave can be used in several ways, depending on the situation and the needs of the employee:

  • Continuous Leave. This involves taking FMLA leave in one continuous period because of a qualifying reason, such as recovery from major surgery.
  • Intermittent Leave. Employees are allowed to take leave in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason. This type of leave is often used for ongoing treatments, such as chemotherapy or dialysis, or for flare-ups of a chronic condition.
  • Reduced Schedule Leave. This allows an employee to reduce their working hours, either daily or weekly, for a period of time due to a serious health condition that necessitates a lighter workload.

Employers must allow employees to use FMLA leave in the manner that best accommodates their health and family needs while also considering the operational requirements of the workplace. This legislation provides crucial support for workers facing significant personal and family health challenges, ensuring that they do not have to choose between their health and their employment.

How Can Employers Violate Employee FMLA Rights?

FMLA violations by employers can manifest in various ways, often leaving employees unaware of their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers may deny FMLA leave by playing games with procedures or making unreasonable requests to certify a medical condition, for example. Or they may grant leave and then terminate the employee based on an employee performance review that does not accurately reflect the employee’s work performance.

Other common types of FMLA employer violations include:

  • Denial of FMLA Leave. Employers violate FMLA when they improperly deny a valid request for leave. This can occur if the employer fails to recognize an employee’s condition as a qualifying serious health condition or disputes the legitimacy of the leave for other reasons, despite the employee providing sufficient information.
  • Interference with FMLA Rights. Employers interfere with FMLA rights when they discourage an employee from using FMLA leave, manipulate the employee’s work hours to avoid eligibility or use other tactics to prevent them from using leave. Interference also includes requiring employees to work while on leave or setting unreasonable demands for checking in or completing tasks.
  • Retaliation. An employer retaliates against an employee when they take adverse action such as termination, demotion, reduction in pay, or other punitive measures because the employee took FMLA leave. This could also include subtler forms of retaliation like unjustified negative performance reviews that are a direct consequence of taking FMLA leave.
  • Failure to Reinstate. Under FMLA, employees are typically entitled to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position with the same pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. An FMLA violation occurs if an employer fails to restore the employee to their position or to an equivalent one after their return from leave.
  • Miscommunication and Misinformation. Employers must inform employees of their rights under the FMLA, including the amount of leave they are entitled to take and any requirements, such as providing a medical certification. Failure to provide this information or providing incorrect information can also constitute a violation.
  • Improper Handling of Medical Certifications. Employers may require a medical certification to substantiate the need for FMLA leave, but they must handle these requests and any related documents properly. Employers cannot request medical information beyond what is required by the FMLA, and they must respect the confidentiality of medical records.
  • Discrimination: Treating employees differently in terms of employment conditions because they have taken FMLA leave is a form of discrimination and a violation of the FMLA.

Understanding these potential violations can help employees and employers alike ensure the rights provided under the FMLA are respected and upheld. Employees who believe their FMLA rights have been violated may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or pursue legal action. As an FMLA attorney with over three decades of experience, I can listen to the facts of your case, explain your legal options, and tenaciously advocate for justice and accountability.

For more specific information about your FMLA leave concerns, FMLA violations, or FMLA benefit eligibility, contact Stepter Law Office today to schedule a free consultation with experienced FMLA lawyer Rayl Stepter.

Learn more: Visit our employment law information center.

From Columbus, Ohio, FMLA violation lawyer Rayl L. Stepter represents clients throughout the state, including the cities of Columbus, Upper Arlington, Dublin, Westerville, Springfield, Gahanna, Reynoldsburg, Hilliard, and Grove City, OH, as well as residents of Franklin County.