The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed in 1993 with the intention of helping qualified employees throughout the United States respond adequately to serious, unexpected family and medical issues without being penalized. More specifically, the FMLA grants qualified employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a given calendar year, and employers are required by law to abide by this grant of leave without imposing additional restrictions or penalties on the employee.
Understandably, the FMLA can be somewhat challenging for both employers and employees to grasp. At Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval, LLP, our Houston FMLA attorneys provide comprehensive legal services to a range of employer and employee clients. We help employers understand their rights, duties, and various other obligations under the FMLA and assist them with compliance. When employees find that they have had their legitimate FMLA requests denied (or delayed unnecessarily) by their employer, our attorneys aggressively pursue litigation on their behalf.
The Basics of FMLA
The FMLA grants covered employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year, and requires that group health benefits be maintained during the leave. Not all employees qualify as “covered” pursuant to the FMLA, however. Only employees of public agencies, public and private elementary and secondary schools, and private companies with 50 or more employees may qualify for FMLA coverage. If a worker is not an employee (i.e., temporary worker or independent contractor), they may therefore not be eligible for FMLA leave.
An employer may legitimately deny a request for FMLA leave if the reasons for the request do not match statutory requirements. Pursuant to the FMLA, an employer must only grant an eligible employee their request for leave if the employee requires such leave for:
- Childbirth and childcare following birth (time taken off for pregnancy complications will be counted against FMLA leave)
- Adoption of a child or foster care placement
- Care of a spouse, child, or parent suffering from a serious health condition
- Medical issues relating to a serious health condition that has rendered the employee unable to work
To qualify for FMLA leave, an employee must meet additional eligibility requirements. An employee must show that they have:
- Worked for the employer for at least one year
- Worked 1,250 hours (at minimum) over the previous year
- Worked at a location in which the company employees at least 50 employees within a geographical area encompassing 75 miles
Our attorneys are well-equipped to counsel employers and employees on FMLA requirements and provide litigation services in the event of a dispute.
At Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval, LLP, our attorneys have decades of combined experience handling FMLA disputes, from mediation, to arbitration, and all the way through to trial (and later appeals, if necessary). FMLA regulation can be complicated for laypersons, and can lead to a great deal of confusion as to each party’s rights and obligations. We work closely with Houston-area clients to ensure that their strategic goals are met during litigation.