There are times in life when it is necessary for you to step away from your job in order to address personal needs. Perhaps you have a medical condition that requires extensive treatment and a lengthy recovery time. You may need to care for a new baby or adjust after a new adoption or foster placement, or you might need to care for a sick loved one. Regardless, you may have the right to take time off from work for a certain period of time without fear of losing your job.
The Family Medical Leave Act, and the state and local equivalents in many areas, allow you to take time off from your job for certain reasons related to your own personal medical needs or family-related needs. However, even if you believe you have a valid right to this time off, it is possible that your employer does not agree. If your employer denies your request for FMLA, you will benefit from learning more about the legal options available to you.
What the FMLA means for you
The federal FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. State and local FMLA laws, which cover some employers not covered by the federal FMLA (such employers with only a few employees), may provide shorter periods of protected leave.
While out on FMLA leave, your job is under protection, which means that your employer cannot fire you for taking time off for a valid reason. While on this leave, your employer must continue your benefits and cannot replace you or move you to another position without your permission. You have the right to seek FMLA leave, but your employer also has the right to deny your request. Some of the most common reasons this happens include:
- The employee does not meet FMLA requirements, perhaps because the employee has not been employed by the company long enough, or the employee is an independent contractor.
- The need for time off does not fall into an eligible category, such as the birth of a child or medical needs.
- The health condition listed on the FMLA request does not qualify the employee for this type of leave.
If you have concerns that your employer violated your rights when the employer denied your FMLA leave request or eliminated your job while you were on FMLA leave, you do not have to remain silent. You may benefit from seeking an understanding of the legal options available to you and pursue a beneficial outcome to your situation. A violation of your employment rights can be grounds to pursue legal action against your metropolitan Washington, D.C., employer.