Family Medical Leave Act

Sometimes, a medical emergency or serious condition requires an employee to take time off from work. This could involve the employee’s own medical needs or the needs of a close family member. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ensures that qualified employees working for covered employers are able to take time off without fear of termination or other retaliation by their employers. If an employer violates someone’s rights under the FMLA, that person may be able to recover damages in a civil lawsuit. Miller & Falkner’s Louisville employment attorneys have extensive experience litigating FMLA claims for workers in Indiana and Kentucky.

Covered Employers

The U.S. Congress passed the FMLA in 1993. Part of the law’s purpose was “to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families.” Toward that end, the FMLA applies to private employers with at least fifty employees within a seventy-five-mile radius during twenty or more weeks of the current or previous calendar year. The law covers all government agencies at the state and local levels, regardless of the number of employees, as well as public and private schools. Federal employees are covered by separate provisions of the FMLA.

Qualifying Employees

In order to qualify for FMLA leave, employees must meet certain criteria. Specifically, they must:

  1. Work for a covered employer within seventy-five miles of a location where the employer employs at least fifty people;
  2. Have at least twelve months of total work experience with the employer, not necessarily consecutively; and
  3. Have at least 1,250 work hours during the twelve-month period immediately prior to the date FMLA leave will begin.

Employee Rights

Qualifying employees may take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave during any twelve-month period, not necessarily a calendar year, for “serious” medical conditions. The twelve weeks do not have to be consecutive. The employer may not interfere with the employee’s leave, prevent the employee from taking leave, or retaliate against the employee for exercising rights under the FMLA.

The medical condition requiring FMLA leave may be one affecting the employee or the employee’s spouse, child, or parent. The FMLA covers a worker’s serious illness, the illness of a close relative, and injury to a family member in military service. It also covers time needed to care for a new child, whether through childbirth, adoption, or foster care.

Employee Remedies for Violations by Employers

Employees may bring civil claims against an employer for alleged FMLA violations. The statute allows an employee to recover wages, benefits, and other compensation lost due to the violation, or actual damages sustained by the employee. It also allows equitable relief, such as reinstatement after wrongful termination.

If you believe that your employer has violated the Family and Medical Leave Act, an experienced Kentucky employment attorney can review your case, advise you of your rights, and help you recover your just compensation. Since 2003, Miller & Falkner has helped countless clients across Indiana and Kentucky with their employment and labor law needs. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team, please contact us today online or at (502) 583-2300.