Have You Been Discriminated Against Under the Family Medical Leave Act?
Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Sep 25, 2014 in Employment Law
The Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, protects the rights of employees in West Virginia and throughout the country to take time off to care for themselves or a family member. The FMLA allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.
If you have worked for an employer who employees 50 or more people within a 75 mile radius, for a public agency, or for a public or private elementary or secondary school for at least 12 months you are probably entitled to protection under FMLA.
How Does FMLA Work?
In West Virginia, as throughout the country, protection under the FMLA means that you can take up to a 12 week, unpaid leave each year for certain qualifying events:
- the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child,
- a serious illness requiring care in a spouse, child, or parent,
- a serious health condition of your own if it makes you unable to perform the essential functions of your job,
- or a qualifying exigency if your spouse, child or parent is a military member who is called to active duty service.
Additionally, if you are the spouse, child, parent, or next-of-kin of a service member who is injured in the line of duty, you may be able to take off 26 weeks within a year to care for that injured veteran.
What are My Rights Under the Family Medical Leave Act?
If you meet these conditions and need to take FMLA leave, the statute has many protections in place to protect your job rights while you are on leave.
First, your employer must continue to provide you and your family with health insurance on the same terms and conditions as if you were working. Also, while you are on leave, except for reductions in force and certain other non-specific employment actions, your employer cant fire you or reduce your pay or other benefits. And, when you return to work, your employer must restore you to either the same job position you had before you left, or another job position with similar pay, benefits, location, shift, and opportunity for overtime and bonuses. Another benefit of the FMLA is that your employer cannot count your FMLA leave time as an absence under a no fault attendance policy.
What Constitutes Discrimination?
In West Virginia, by law, your employer must comply with the provisions of the FMLA or they can owe you for their violations.
If you are eligible for FMLA time off and your employer refuses to authorize it, discourages you from using FMLA time, manipulates your hours to avoid giving you FMLA time, uses your request for use of FMLA time as a negative factor in your employment, such as in hiring, firing, promotions, or disciplinary actions, or if your employer does try to count your FMLA time as an absence, then you may be entitled to recover against your employer.
How Stewart Bell, PLLC Can Help Protect Your Rights
You should contact an attorney skilled in this area, such as those at Stewart Bell, PLLC. That attorney may be able to recover for you double any wages lost or the cost of care that you incurred when you had to hire someone to care for your injured family member because you werent allowed time off to care for them. Additionally, your employer may be required to pay you attorneys fees and costs.
If your family needs you, the FMLA is in place to protect your ability to be there for them.
If your employer doesn't allow you to use the FMLA or discriminates against you for using FMLA leave, please give the qualified attorneys at Stewart Bell, PLLC a call, toll-free, at (800) 342-1701 and we will help.