Family & Medical Leave Act Lawyers in Charlotte, Holding Employers Accountable for Violating Your Rights
Employment law can get complicated in America. Fortunately, most of the related statutes provide protections for eligible workers. One landmark piece of legislation is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law provides job protections to workers who need to take time off from work to care for themselves or family members. Every eligible employee is entitled to take this time off without fear of consequences. If you believe you’ve faced some form of punishment for taking FMLA leave, you might be entitled to compensation. A Family & Medical Leave Act lawyer in Charlotte may be able to help.
At Harman Law, we’ve seen what can happen when an employer violates the rights of their workers. We’ve handled all sorts of cases — ranging from acts of discrimination to whistleblower retaliation — but violations related to FMLA leave are particularly disheartening. You have the right to care for yourself and loved ones when necessary, and it’s especially cruel when an employer tries to prevent you from doing so. You need a legal advocate on your side, so contact us today at Harman Law to schedule a confidential consultation.
Are You Eligible for FMLA Leave?
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a law that grants eligible employees the right to take unpaid and job-protected leave for either medical or family reasons that qualify under the law. A worker can take up to 12 weeks off without fear of being fired or losing health insurance if they qualify for FMLA leave. Unfortunately, not all employees are eligible for such leave — and even those who are can only take time off under certain circumstances. It’s important to understand these requirements since an employer’s adverse actions may be completely legal if certain conditions are not met.
These conditions include:
- Employers must be public agencies, private or public schools (primary or secondary), or have at least 50 employees.
- Employee must have been at their current job for at least 12 months.
- Employee must have worked at least 1,260 hours in the past 12 months.
- Employee must work in a location where the employer has at least 50 workers within 75 miles.
If these eligibility requirements are met, an employee is allowed unpaid leave under the FMLA. In order to take FMLA leave, however, the reason for their absence must also be eligible. Acceptable situations include (1) childbirth or caring for a newborn child, (2) adopting a child or bringing a foster child into the home, (3) an employee’s spouse, child, or parent needs care for serious health conditions, or (4) the employee is recovering from a serious medical condition.
These may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through to secure FMLA leave, but the requirements under the law are there for a reason. They’re meant to protect employee rights while not unfairly burdening employers. If you feel your FMLA rights have been violated, speaking with a Charlotte employment law attorney may be in your best interest. Doing so will help you understand whether you qualify and how to take the appropriate actions if your employer denies your protected time off or punishes you in some way.
What Compensation Is Available for Eligible Employees?
If your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act have been violated, there are a few different options available to you. First, you may be able to negotiate a settlement with your employer. However, an FMLA lawsuit is often the right approach. This will ensure you’re able to access all your potential legal remedies — and it may also ensure that your employer does not violate your rights or the rights of others in the future. If you file a successful lawsuit, you may expect to recover damages that include:
- Wages, lost benefits, and other financial loss suffered due to retaliation or interference.
- Interest on money that you lost due to inappropriate employer actions.
- Reinstatement or being re-promotion — or to an equivalent position — when appropriate.
- Any court or attorney fees you may have paid to seek justice.
- Additional liquidated damages equal to the front and back pay you receive.
The FMLA requires employers to protect the position of workers who are taking federally-protected time off. It’s possible that such a violation occurred without the business owner realizing they were violating someone’s rights, but it’s their responsibility to know these laws. In instances where it’s clear that the employer knew what they were doing, it may even be possible to receive additional damages as a punitive measure. However, this possibility will depend entirely upon the unique circumstances of your case.
One thing to keep in mind is that you are only legally entitled to recover damages if it was clear to your employer that your leave was for family or medical reasons. You don’t have to specifically mention the FMLA, but enough information must be provided so that your employer knows you qualify. Even if you failed to do this, however, a Family and Medical Leave Act attorney in Charlotte may be able to help you secure the benefits you deserve.
Who Is a “Family Member” Under FMLA?
A major question that people often have when they request leave under the FMLA is who qualifies as a family member. Not everyone that you love or consider family will fall under the statute. In fact, the law specifically states that only three relationships — spouse, child, or parent — qualify under the law. Fortunately, the FMLA is a bit broader than you may think. For instance, the law defines family members as the following:
- Spouse: An employee’s husband or wife. This is true for same-sex marriages as well.
- Child: The employee’s biological, foster, or adopted child. Stepchildren, legal wards, and children the employee is responsible for also qualify. The child must be under 18 years old or suffer a condition that prevents them from caring for themselves.
- Parent: Employee’s biological, foster, step, or adoptive mother or father. Individuals who served as the legally-responsible adult when an employee was a child also qualify.
Unfortunately, this means non-immediate family members typically will not help you qualify for FMLA leave. However, you’re typically well within your rights to take time off work to care for immediate family members. Of course, these things can get complicated — particularly in instances where relationships don’t fall into the traditional categories. This is why you should speak with an FMLA attorney in Charlotte if you have any questions about whether your rights were violated. Many employees won’t realize these rights have been violated, and it’s imperative that you don’t become one of those individuals.
Contact a Family & Medical Leave Act Lawyer in Charlotte Today
If your employer violated your right to take FMLA leave, you may find yourself wondering what to do next. It might seem tempting to just let it slide to avoid “rocking the boat” at your place of employment. However, it’s important to remember that your employer cannot engage in retaliation against you for either taking time off under the FMLA or seeking justice for a violation of that right. Any such acts that a qualifying employer engages in will likely leave them open to additional legal consequences. Due to the complexity of these laws, however, it never hurts to have an FMLA lawyer on your side to help.
At Harman Law, our legal team has spent years defending the rights of workers who face employment law violations. The FMLA guarantees that eligible employees can take time off for appropriate reasons, and if an employer violated such rights, it’s important that they’re held accountable. Whether you took time off to deal with your own medical condition or were caring for a loved one dealing with a serious health condition, there’s a good chance that the law is on your side. Contact us today by calling (704) 286-0947 to learn more about how to move forward. Our Family & Medical Leave Act lawyers in Charlotte are ready to advocate on your behalf.