The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act
The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) recognizes the need for employees to take time off from work to handle matters, such as caring for a loved one or attending to their own health issues. The FMLA lawyers at DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC in Atlanta are committed to protecting employees’ rights under the FMLA and representing employers on compliance issues.
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Knowledgeable legal counselors explain FMLA provisions
The FMLA allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons without jeopardizing their jobs. If the employee is covered by employer-provided health insurance, that coverage must continue during the leave.
An employer must abide by the FMLA if it had at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks during the current or previous year and:
- The covered employee worked there for at least a year.
- The employee worked at least 1250 hours in the preceding 12 months./li>
- At least 50 company employees work within 75 miles of the affected employee.
If the need to take leave is foreseeable, the employee must give the employer up to 30 days advance notice. The employee must be reinstated at the end of the granted leave unless the position was eliminated for unrelated reasons or reinstating the employee would cause “substantial and grievous economic injury” to the company. This is an unusual situation, and the employee must be warned beforehand.
The types of leave covered under the FMLA
An eligible employee may take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave in each 12-month period. An employer can choose this 12-month period based on a calendar year, an anniversary year, or other benchmarks, but this must be applied consistently. FMLA leave can be taken for any of these reasons:
- Childbirth and childcare for a year after birth.
- Adopting a child, accepting a foster child, and caring for that child during the first year.
- Care of a spouse, child, or parent with a serious medical condition.
- Tending to a serious illness through medical leave when unable to work.
- Certain circumstances involve a family member’s active military service, such as military events, childcare arrangements, quality time with the family member before deployment or during leave, and counseling.
If a military service member who is the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin suffers a serious service-related medical condition, the employee may take up to 26 nonrenewable workweeks for each service member in a 12-month period. If the employer offers paid leave, it may be used during FMLA leave in certain circumstances. An employer might even require workers to exhaust their paid leave during their FMLA leave.
Tenacious Advocates Handle Disputes Over Alleged FMLA Violations
An employer is potentially liable under the FMLA if it:
- Fails to authorize leave when an employee meets the statutory requirements.
- Cuts off an employee’s health insurance during leave.
- Disciplines, discharges, or harasses an employee because of the FMLA leave.
- Fails to reinstate the employee to their prior position, except in legally permitted circumstances.
Our labor and employment law attorneys have appeared on both sides of FMLA disputes. As attorneys for plaintiffs, we can seek multiple remedies for an employer’s failure to comply with the FMLA, including:
- A court order protecting the employee from future violations.
- Back pay and front pay that is lost due to the violation.
- In cases of employer bad faith, liquidated damages equal to the amount of lost pay.
- Attorneys’ fees and court costs.
As defense attorneys, we raise all available defenses, including good faith, and work to achieve compliance and workplace harmony with the least amount of exposure to damages.
Contact a Georgia law firm experienced in family and medical leave issues
When you need help enforcing your rights under the FMLA as either an employer or employee, call DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC at or contact us online to arrange for a consultation. Our Atlanta office has convenient on and off-street parking and is ADA accessible.