New York City Family & Medical Leave Act Lawyer
Helping New Yorkers Get The Full Benefit of FMLA Protections
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed by Congress in 1993 to provide time off to workers who need to care for a newborn child or a new addition to the family, to care for an ill family member, or due to their own sickness. While FMLA is unpaid, it provides significant job protections so workers can take time off at these vital moments in their lives without losing their jobs or health insurance.
Unfortunately, although the FMLA is nearly thirty years old, employees still struggle to exercise their legal rights to family and medical leave, with employers providing subtle and not so subtle pressure on workers to keep them from taking the leave they are entitled to under the law. We won’t let that happen. At Mansell Law, our sole focus is on making sure employees get the benefit of the labor and employment laws enacted for their protection.
Learn more about your FMLA rights below. If your employer is keeping you from taking FMLA leave that you are entitled to, we want to know about it. Call our New York City FMLA lawyers for a free consultation and immediate assistance.
What Does FMLA Do?
The heart of the FMLA is that it provides employees with twelve weeks of unpaid every year that they can use for any of the following situations:
- Birth of a child and to care for the child
- Placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care
- To care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition
- Because of the employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the job
- Because of a “qualifying exigency” arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, child or parent is on covered active duty in the Armed Forces
Which Employees Are Covered Under the FMLA?
To be eligible for FMLA leave, the employee must first be employed with the employer for 12 months and have completed 1,250 hours of service in the previous 12 months. Also, FMLA only covers employees who work for an employer with at least 50 employees. If there are less than 50 employees at the employee’s worksite or within 75 miles of the worksite, then the employee might not be covered by FMLA. Government workers, however, are covered without regard to the number of employees at the worksite or agency.
What Counts As a Serious Health Condition?
The FMLA defines a serious health condition as an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical facility or continuing treatment by a health care provider.
What Do I Need to Know About FMLA?
You are entitled to take up to twelve weeks a year for a qualifying condition or event, as described above. When you return from FMLA leave, you are entitled to be restored to your previous position or an equivalent position with no loss in benefits. Also, while you are out on leave, you have the option of maintaining any employer-sponsored health insurance, so long as you continue to make any required employee contributions.
If taking leave for birth, adoption or foster care placement, the leave must be taken within 12 months of the birth or placement. The 12 weeks can be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave basis in certain circumstances (by agreement for birth or adoption, or when medically necessary). If taking intermittent leave, the employer can require you to transfer to another position.
Your employer can require a doctor’s certification when taking FMLA for a serious health condition.
The employee can choose, or the employer can require the employee, to substitute any accrued paid leave for FMLA leave. This could include accrued paid vacation, personal or family leave for any FMLA reason, as well as medical or sick leave for a serious health condition.
Special rules apply for spouses of the same employer, highly compensated employees, and teachers requesting leave near the end of a semester. See an FMLA attorney if you are in any of these special situations.
What Do I Do if My Employer Violates My FMLA Rights?
To get the best result when requesting FMLA leave, you should try to coordinate and work with your employer to schedule leave at a convenient time, and give your employer plenty of notice of your request. This isn’t always possible, however.
It is illegal for an employer to directly or indirectly intimidate, threaten, or coerce an employee or attempt to interfere with, restrain or deny an employee’s exercise of their FMLA rights. Employers cannot promise a benefit to get an employee to forgo FMLA leave, nor take or threaten reprisals or retaliation against an employee for taking FMLA leave, filing a charge or complaint, giving information in connection with an inquiry or proceeding, testifying in court on an FMLA case, etc. Of course, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee or in any manner discriminate against an employee for exercising FMLA rights.
Employees can bring a civil action against their employer for FMLA violations. If successful, they can recover money damages equal to any pay and benefits they lost, plus interest. This amount is doubled through a “liquidated damages” provision in the law as well. Additionally, employees may be entitled to reinstatement or promotion, if applicable, and they can recover their attorney’s fees and costs spent in the legal action.
Employees have two years from the date of the FMLA violation to bring a claim. If the employer’s violation was willful, the worker has up to three years to file a civil action.
Act Now to Secure Your Valuable FMLA Rights
Mansell Law helps New York City workers get the benefit of FMLA they are entitled to and bring charges against employers who violate the law. If your FMLA rights have been violated, call Mansell Law at 646-921-8900 for a free consultation with a knowledgeable and dedicated New York FMLA employment lawyer.