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In the BLOG

Can an Employer Deny FMLA Leave?

It is against the law for a covered employer to deny an eligible employee’s proper request for FMLA leave.  Your employer can’t require you to perform any work while you are on approved FMLA leave.  It is also illegal for a covered employer to retaliate against an eligible employee who requests FMLA leave. If you’re not sure whether you’re an eligible employee for FMLA, learn more about it in our FMLA overview.

Did my employer violate my FMLA rights?

If your employer unlawfully denies your leave request, retaliates against you for requesting FMLA leave, or otherwise interferes with your FMLA rights, you may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or file a lawsuit in federal court.

Am I entitled to FMLA leave?

You are entitled to FMLA leave if the following apply:

  • If you work for a covered employer, meaning an employer with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius;
  • If you have worked for the employer for at least 12 months; and
  • If you have worked for the employer for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to taking leave.

How do you request FMLA leave?

In order to take FMLA leave, you must provide your employer with appropriate notice.  For more information on how and when to request leave, visit our page here.

The main takeaway to remember is that you must provide your employer with enough information about your leave so that they are aware that the leave may be covered by the FMLA.  If you don’t give your employer enough information, your leave may not be protected.

How do you sue your employer for FMLA leave?

If you believe your FMLA rights have been violated, you can file an administrative complaint with the Department of Labor or you can file a private civil action in court.  There are no other requirements under the Act to file in court other than a reasonable belief a violation occurred.

How to file an FMLA administrative complaint

The FMLA is administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. You can contact your local Wage and Hour Division to assist you in filing an administrative complaint.  The Department of Labor will investigate your claim and determine if there has been a violation and if so, how to address the violation.   The Department of Labor will first attempt to negotiate a resolution with your employer, but if this is unsuccessful, the Department may sue your employer on your behalf.

How to file an FMLA lawsuit

An employee can bring a lawsuit in state or federal court against an employer for violations of the FMLA. In general, any allegation must be raised within two years from the date of violation.

If you decide to file a lawsuit, you should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney who can file a complaint in state or federal court.  This complaint will list the claims against your employer and provide the facts to support your claims. Your employer will have a chance to respond to your claims.  You may be able to come to a settlement agreement during this process.  An experienced attorney can guide you through the lawsuit and settlement negotiations.

How can I prove my FMLA case?

In order to prove your FMLA case, you must show that you were entitled to leave and your employer prevented you from obtaining that leave.  In order to prove a retaliation, claim under the FMLA, you must prove that you requested or took FMLA leave, suffered an adverse employment action (such as termination), and the adverse decision was connected to the use of your FMLA rights.

Prior to filing a complaint, be sure to document what has occurred and collect all supporting documents. If you believe your request for FMLA leave has been wrongfully denied or interfered, be sure to document in writing your request for leave and your employer’s denial or interference.  This will help you in proving your case and will assist your attorney in filing a complaint on your behalf.

What damages can I recover under FMLA?

The damages available under the FMLA include:

  • Reinstatement
  • Back pay
  • Front pay
  • Liquidated damages (doubling the total amount of compensation)
  • Attorney’s fees and costs.

Under the FMLA, you are not entitled to emotional distress damages.

Do I need an attorney for an FMLA lawsuit?

If you are considering taking legal action for a violation of your FMLA rights, it may be helpful to consult an experienced employment attorney.  A lawyer can determine whether you work for a covered employer, if you are an eligible employee, and if your employer violated the law.  An attorney can assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and recommend a course of action.

If your employer violated your FMLA rights, Alan Lescht and Associates, P.C., can help.  Our attorneys represent federal government employees around the world, as well as private-sector and state and local government employees in Washington, DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.  We provide experienced legal representation in FMLA cases and other employment-related matters.

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