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Family and Medical Leave Act: FMLA Attorneys in Columbus, Ohio, and Toledo, Ohio

As Toledo, Ohio, and Columbus, Ohio FMLA attorneys, we understand the complexities employees face when they need to utilize medical leave during a difficult time period to determine a diagnosis, get surgery or other medical procedures, recover, and/or seek ongoing medical treatment.


We understand the steps employees need to take in order to exercise their rights and protect their jobs under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).


Because the FMLA is a complex statute that applies to a variety of medical situations, you should contact a FMLA attorney at Bryant Legal, LLC to discuss your need to take medical leave in more detail.


What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), codified as 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq., is a federal law that entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave up to 12 weeks in the following circumstances:


  • When the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition;
  • For the birth of a son or daughter, and to care for the newborn child;
  • For the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, and to care for the newly placed child; and
  • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent — but not a parent “in-law”) with a serious health condition


The FMLA and federal regulations have very specific and technical requirements that must be followed by both the covered employer and the eligible employee. For this reason alone, it is important to contact an employment attorney to advise you of your FMLA rights as early as possible.


Is My Employer Required to Let Me Take FMLA Leave?

In general, employers with 50 or more employees are covered by the FMLA.


 This means these employers must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period.


  • Private employers must have at least 50 employees
  • Government agencies (including local, state, and federal): No requirement for a minimum number of employees
  • Elementary and secondary schools: No requirement of the minimum number of employees


Am I an Eligible Employee?

Eligible employees may take intermittent leave or all 12 workweeks of leave at once, as the medical condition requires.


If an employee is caring for a service member with a serious injury or illness, they’re entitled to up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave from work.


In order for an employee to qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave, whether it’s taken in one block or intermittently, the following conditions must be met:


  • You must have worked at least 12 months in a row for your current employer;
  • You have worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months before you take leave (average of 24 hours per week); and
  • You must work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite.


How Do I Request FMLA Leave?

Notify Your Employer About Your Family or Medical Leave

First, the FMLA requires you to notify (verbally or in writing) your employer about your medical leave.


When leave is foreseeable (e.g., childbirth, scheduled surgeries, etc.), you must provide notice no earlier than 30 days prior to leave.


For unforeseeable leave (e.g., emergencies), your obligations are more flexible, but you must provide notice as soon as reasonably practicable under the circumstances.


This means complying with your employer’s policy as best as you can. 


For example, if an emergency situation occurs, conduct your best efforts under the circumstances to inform your employer that you’re going through a medical emergency and provide your employer with enough information accordingly.


Your FMLA documentation can also be backdated to cover any absences associated with the leave. The best practice is to notify your employer as soon as possible and keep a record of when, how, and to whom notice was provided.


Your Employer Notifies You of Your Eligibility for FMLA

Second, your employer must notify you whether you are eligible for FMLA leave within 5 business days.


For example, let’s assume you are involved in a motor vehicle accident that requires you to stay in the hospital for a few days and require follow-up treatment.


Assuming you notify your employer as soon as reasonably practicable under the circumstances, your employer has a duty to determine whether or not your absences qualify for FMLA leave.


Your Employer Provides You with an Employee’s FMLA Rights and Responsibilities

Third, (if eligible) your employer must provide you with your FMLA rights and responsibilities, as well as any request for certification by your healthcare provider.


Provide a Completed Certification to Your Employee

Fourth, you must provide a completed certification to your employer within 15 calendar days (no earlier than 15 days), but it can be extended by your employer.


Your Employer Notifies You If Your Leave is Considered FMLA Leave

Fifth, your employer must notify you whether your leave has been designated as FMLA leave within 5 business days of receiving your completed certification.


Stay in the Limits of Your FMLA Certification Dates

Finally, you have an obligation to stay within the limits of your initial certification. In the event you are absent beyond the initial certification, your employer may request a re-certification.


FMLA Violations: FMLA Interference and Retaliation

Although it is a best practice for employers to be empathetic to their employees when it comes to the use of medical leave, oftentimes employers simply do not want to adhere to FMLA requirements. The results can profoundly affect an employee during this difficult period.


Fortunately, the FMLA prohibits a covered employer from interfering with or retaliating against eligible employees for exercising (or attempting to exercise) his or her rights to medical leave, whether the leave is used all at once or intermittently.


FMLA Interference

FMLA interference occurs when:


  1. You are an eligible employee as defined under the FMLA;
  2. The employer was a covered employer as defined under the FMLA;
  3. You were entitled to leave under the FMLA;
  4. You gave the employer notice of her intention to take FMLA leave; and
  5. Your employer denied FMLA benefits to which you are entitled.


Interference can range greatly, from an employer:


  • Discouraging an employee from using medical leave (i.e. expressing its concerns that an employee’s inability to work on certain days due to FMLA leave is “going to be a problem”)
  • Denying leave entirely, forcing the employee to work while on medical leave
  • Failing to reinstate an employee after returning from leave


FMLA Retaliation

In a similar context, the FMLA prohibits retaliation against an employee for taking medical leave. 


Indeed, the FMLA provides that “[i]t shall be unlawful for any employer to discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any individual for opposing any practice made unlawful by this subchapter.” See 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(2). 


It’s also unlawful for an employer to discharge or discriminate against an employee for opposing any practice made unlawful by the FMLA. See 29 U.S.C. § 2615(b).


This means you can’t be treated differently because you have exercised your FMLA rights. 


The use of medical leave can’t  be used as a negative factor in any aspect of employment, such as:


  • Hiring
  • Evaluations
  • Discipline
  • Firing 


Contact Us to Speak with FMLA Attorneys in Toledo, Ohio, and Columbus, Ohio

For more information about your FMLA legal issue or if you believe your employer has interfered with or retaliated against you for exercising your FMLA rights, contact the Toledo and Columbus FMLA lawyers at the law firm of Bryant Legal, LLC to discuss your case in more detail.

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