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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Lawsuits

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Lawsuits

In spite of the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), many employers still attempt to find their way around it. It is becoming fairly common for employees to file lawsuits against their employers for violations of FMLA, and fortunately for those who are forced to resort to legal action, the law is very clear about the obligations and responsibilities of employers.

Provisions and Penalties for Violations

FMLA Lawsuit LawyersEmployees continue to exercise their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act by suing employers that violate the law. Some employers attempt to deny promotions and/or raises to employees who take time off under FMLA. The law went into effect in 1993 and guarantees employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to tend to medical and family issues. In addition, its provisions bar employers from retaliating against any worker who takes time off for family and/or medical leave.

There is a lower threshold of proof under FMLA than the majority of other employment-related lawsuits. For instance, an employee who is suing his employer for bias must be able to prove the employer deliberately intended to discriminate. However, in a case under FMLA, the only thing the employee needs to prove is that the employer willingly prevented him or her from taking leave (to which he is entitled under the act) or interrupted an employee’s FMLA leave. We can certainly see an increase in the number of employees suing their employers under FMLA, but this is probably due to the fact that employees are more familiar with the law than they were a decade ago.

When an employer violates FMLA, an employee can recover up to double the amount of his/her wages, as well as the cost of any caretakers he/she must hire for family members due to the denied request for leave. There are no provisions for punitive damages under FMLA, only actual damages. In addition, if the employee wins the lawsuit, the employer must pay all the legal fees as well!

Challenges for Employers

Sometimes it can be challenging for employers to accommodate employees who ask for FMLA leave.  One of the problems they face is the fact the law doesn’t clearly define what it considers a serious health condition that meets the qualifications for leave. No matter, employers are obligated to follow the law or face serious penalties. As noted above, employers can be commanded to pay employees double their normal rate of pay and/or payment for caretakers if they fail to approve a requested leave.

Notable FMLA Lawsuits

In one notable case, the employee was passed over for a promotion and received raises lower than other employees due to taking time off under FMLA. He is requesting reinstatement in his former position or one with equivalent pay and benefits in addition to lost wages. His lawsuit also alleges that he was ordered to work a security drill in 2009 on the same day his wife gave birth even though he had already taken leave. He was bypassed for a promotion in 2010 for taking leave, and he again took leave in 2012 and 2013 to attend to his wife’s health issues. He left his job in July 2013, a month before he filed the lawsuit. The company denies the allegations according to court filings.

An employee at another company had worked there for three years when she requested and took time off to take care of her sick son toward the end of 2011. She also took a few days off over the next year and a half when her other son became ill, but she was never informed about her rights under FMLA until the company hired a new human resources employee who alerted the employee during the fall of 2012.

The employee was fired after she requested more time off in August 2013 after she had exhausted her 12 weeks of FMLA leave for that year. Her sons were both recuperating from surgery, and she refused to work during the hospitalization. The lawsuit alleges her rights were violated by the company’s failure to inform her of FMLA until 2012 and that her termination soon after she exhausted her 12 weeks of approved leave constituted retaliation. The company denies the allegations.

What Should I Do?

If you believe your employer has violated your rights under FMLA, call 1-800-ATTORNEY. We can help you obtain the compensation you deserve and anything else to which you are entitled. We work off contingency so you never have to pay us up front, and if we win, attorneys fees are paid by the negligent employer!

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Rasansky Law Firm
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