The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) allows employees that qualify to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a rolling calendar year for serious family or medical issues. While the leave itself is unpaid, an employee on FMLA leave still retains his or her medical insurance benefits. Most important, FMLA leave is protected – employers cannot retaliate against an employee for electing to take FMLA leave. Similarly, employers cannot interfere with or prevent an employee from taking FMLA leave.
Often, it is advisable to consult with an employment attorney prior to taking FMLA leave, especially where an employee believes that his or her employer may not understand or sympathize with the reasons behind taking leave. Some qualifying medical conditions, such as severe stress or an anxiety disorders, can manifest themselves as poor work performance to an overbearing employer. If an employee seeks FMLA leave for that very reason, an employer may interpret that as taking leave to avoid the consequences of employer-perceived work performance issues. Taking FMLA leave, especially where it is intermittent, can prove to be a game of chess between employee and employer.
Generally speaking, employees who work for public agencies and employers that have more than 50 employees are entitled to FMLA leave. Similarly, an employee must have worked for the entity or company for at least a year. If you have been retaliated against for taking FMLA leave, or if your efforts towards taking FMLA have been blocked or otherwise interfered with, you should consult an employment attorney. Contact us for a case evaluation: