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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law allows qualified employees the right to take time off for certain caretaking responsibilities and health problems. Unfortunately, some employers, either purposefully or inadvertently, violate the mandates of the FMLA. This is illegal. Employees that have been subject to illegal FMLA practices may be entitled to damages in the Florida State court and Federal court.
Generally, employees are entitled to 12 weeks of leave per year for most qualifying conditions. If an employee may be entitled to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period if the leave was to care for a family member with a military service-related injury or illness.
One the tenants of the FMLA is that an employee who take medical leave under the Act is reinstated to the position they held before they left, or its equivalent. A position is equivalent when it is virtually identical to the employee’s former position in pay, benefits, duties and schedule.
While an employee is on leave, the employer must continue the employee’s health insurance and other benefits. The employee may not be required to take a physical, wait for open enrollment, or otherwise requalify for coverage. If any automatic cost of living raises occurred while the employee was on leave, they are also entitled to that pay increase.
Florida employers with at least 50 employees are required to comply with FMLA.
But, not every employee of a covered employer is eligible for leave. For example, among other requirements, the employee must have worked for at least a year, and at least 1,250 hour during the previous year.
Failing to continue health insurance. A West Palm Beach employer cuts off an employee’s health insurance prematurely, because of non-payment of premium. Employee is still entitled to the same written notice as they would have been extended had they not take medical leave before the employer can terminate coverage.
Disciplining employees for excessive absences. A Boca Raton employer counts any absence against an employee, including days that were taken under FMLA. The employee eclipses the policy threshold for the number of absences that trigger disciplinary action, and is disciplined. An employer may not count FMLA-qualified absences against an employee.
Hounding or pressuring employees who are on leave. A Delray Beach employer texts and emails an employee who is on medical leave caring for their father every other day to inquire when she will be returning to work. An employer that checks up on an employee constantly or requires an employee to provide detailed information beyond what the FMLA allows has violated the law.
Disciplinary action or termination: A West Palm Beach employer terminates an employee for taking leave to care for their child who has been hospitalized. This is of course, is the most egregious violation of the FMLA. Disciplinary action or termination of an employee for taking legally entitled medical leave is illegal. This could be in the form of giving an employee a bad performance review based on work that wasn’t completed because of the employee’s FLMA leave.
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