A Special Issue: The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) – The 50 Things You May Need to Know

“If home doesn’t make sense, nothing does.”

– Henrietta Rippenger

Actual Case History: Isaac had his dream job: Public Relations Director for his city’s professional basketball team. Over six years, he managed to “climb the ladder” at his employer, a large public relations firm, and was assigned to cover the basketball team’s account. When the team’s internal Public Relations Director decided he would soon retire, he approached Isaac about coming aboard to take the job, after a brief transition. Isaac accepted the offer, and came aboard. All went well.

For two years, Isaac upgraded the team’s public image signficantly by continual innovation, including getting media coverage of a new Big Player-Big Brother team effort to help troubled teenagers, establishing a Team College Tuition Foundation, and having the team literally adopt the city’s lowest ranked high school in its poorest neighborhood with a goal of making it one of the best, in all respects, in 10 years.

Sadly and suddenly, Isaac’s elderly father was diagnosed with late-stage cancer, and given some three to six months to live. The family was faced with the choice of caring for him at home, or placing him in a nursing home. Isaac’s wife and sister were both happy to help, but Isaac’s father was very large, weighing over 250.

Isaac was concerned about his dad, and his wife and sister, and thought it best to take a leave of absence to help out. At the same time, he was concerned, too, about how this might affect his job. He came in for a consultation.

We walked Isaac through the FMLA application and certification process, in which (a) Isaac applied for an unpaid 12-week leave to care for his dad, (b) his dad’s doctor certified that his dad needed his care, and (c) after his dad’s passing some ten weeks later, and a brief bereavement period, Isaac returned to his same job.

Lesson to Learn: The federal Family Medical Leave Act (called “FMLA” for short) is a very useful federal law. It provides employees with needed flexibility to address personal or family medical needs and/or crises by affording them an unpaid leave of absence, and job restoration upon return. However, its provisions can seem confusing, and must be carefully complied with in order to obtain its benefits.

The FMLA law covers only certain employers, and it applies to only certain employees. FMLA provides most employees with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year, and requires group health benefits (if any) to be maintained as if the employee continued to work instead of taking leave. It also requires job restoration upon return from leave, sets requirements for notice and certification of the need to take a FMLA leave of absence, and protects employees who request or take FMLA leave.

Though you may think you will never be in need of such legal protections, the chances are pretty good you will. If, indeed, that does come to be, here are a list of the questions we believe you are most likely to ask, and the answers you will most likely need to know.

What You Can Do: In Q & A format, these are “The 50 Things You May Need to Know About FMLA”:

[Important Note: The information below is a summary only, and not 100% comprehensive. It is believed accurate as of the date it was written, and is not updated over time. We cannot guarantee that it is 100% accurate, or that over time, certain laws, rules or regulations may change. You are encouraged to consult with an attorney qualified in your locale to confirm the continued accuracy of this summary.]€

A. INTRO

1: What is the purpose of the FMLA law?

The FMLA allows employees to balance their work and family life by taking reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. FMLA seeks to accomplish these purposes in a manner that accommodates the legitimate interests of employers, and minimizes the potential for employment discrimination on the basis of gender, while promoting equal employment opportunity for men and women.

2: How much unpaid leave am I entitled to take under FMLA?

If you are an “eligible” employee, you are entitled to 12 weeks of leave for certain family and medical reasons during a 12-month period.

3: Does the FMLA law guarantee paid time off?

No. FMLA only guarantees unpaid leave. However, the law permits an employee to elect, or the employer to require the employee, to use accrued paid vacation leave or, subject to certain restrictions, sick or family leave, for some or all of the FMLA period. When paid leave is substituted for unpaid FMLA leave, it may be counted against the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

4. Am I entitled to return to my old job after my unpaid FMLA leave?

Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to his or her original job, or to any “equivalent” position which means virtually identical to the original job in terms of pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions. In addition, an employee’s use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any employment benefits that the employee earned or was entitled to before using (but not necessarily during) FMLA leave.

5. Is FMLA the only legal right I may have to take a leave from work?

No. First, many states have guaranteed-leave laws that provide employees leaves different than, often better than, FMLA’s. Because FMLA is a federal law, it applies more broadly than any state law, and provides a federal standard which no state law can take away. If you are in need of a leave of absence from work, you are encouraged to carefully review your FMLA rights, and to review your state-law rights, if any, as well.

6. Might my employer provide for an unpaid, or paid, leave of absence better than the FMLA law requires?

Yes. Many employers provide for leaves of absence that are more helpful to employees than the law (state or federal) requires. Consult with your Human Resources Department.

B. WHICH EMPLOYERS ARE COVERED

7. Which employers are required to comply with FMLA?

FMLA applies to all:

a. Public agencies, including state, local and Federal employers, and local education agencies (schools); and

b. Private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year – including joint employers and successors of covered employers;

c. Note that for FMLA purposes, most Federal and Congressional employees are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) or the Congress.

These are commonly called “covered” employers.

8. What if my employer has only 10 employees, but it is owned by another company that has 100 employees?

Separate companies will be treated as parts of a single employer for FMLA purposes if they meet the “joint employer test.” Under this test, the primary factors that are considered are whether: (a) the two companies have common management, (b) the two companies are interrelated in their operations, (c) the two companies have centralized control of labor relations, and (d) the two companies have a considerable degree of common ownership and financial control.

9. What if I am “technically” an employee of one company, but I “substantively” work for another company in a “loan-out” arrangement; are they both covered by FMLA?

Where two or more businesses exercise some control over the work and/or the working conditions of an employee, the businesses may be “joint employers” under FMLA. This is so even if the two companies have separate and distinct owners, managers and facilities. Whether or not “joint employment” exists is not determined by any single factor, but by reference to the entire relationship. Joint employment will usually be found to exist where a temp firm or employee leasing company supplies employees to a second employer.

In joint employment relationships, both companies have certain responsibilities to the employee. For example, only the “primary” employer is required to give required FMLA notices to the employee. As another example, the “secondary” employer is required to restore the returning employee to the employee’s original position or an equivalent one. Both “primary” and “secondary” employers are prohibited from interfering with FMLA rights, and are prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against an employee who has exercised his or her FMLA rights.

C. WHICH EMPLOYEES ARE ELIGIBLE

10. Which employees are eligible for FMLA leave? To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a “covered employer” and:

a. have worked for that employer for at least 12 months, AND

b. have worked for at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave, AND

c. work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed at the location, or within 75 miles of the location.

These are commonly called “eligible” employees.

11. Do the 12 months of service with the employer have to be continuous or consecutive?

No. The 12 months do not have to be continuous or consecutive; all time worked for the employer are counted.

12. How is the 12-month period calculated under FMLA?

Employers may select one of four options for determining the 12-month period:

a. The calendar year.

b. Any fixed 12-month “leave year” such as the fiscal year, a year required by state law, or a year starting on the employee’s “anniversary” date.

c. The 12-month period measured forward from the date any employee’s first FMLA leave begins.

d. A “rolling” 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses FMLA leave.

13. Do the 1,250 hours include paid leave time or other absences from work?

No. The 1,250 hours include only those hours actually worked for the employer. Paid leave and unpaid leave, including FMLA leave, are not included.

14. How do I determine if I have worked 1,250 hours in a 12-month period?

Your individual record of hours worked would be used to determine whether 1,250 hours had been worked in the 12-months prior to the commencement of FMLA leave. The following may be helpful for estimating whether this test for eligibility has been met:

a. 24 hours worked in each of the 52 weeks of the year; or

b. over 104 hours worked in each of the 12 months of the year; or

c. 40 hours worked per week for more than 31 weeks (or seven months) of the year.

15. I’ve heard FMLA has a “key employee” exception; what is that?

Some employees provide services that are “key” to a company’s operations. They must be salaried, highly compensated, usually within the top 10% in compensation, and fulfill critical functions. In these limited circumstances, where holding a job open for 12 weeks will cause “substantial and grievous economic injury” to operations, an employer can refuse to guarantee job restoration after leave. In order to do so, the employer must notify the employee of his or her status as a “key” employee (as defined by FMLA), the reason(s) for denying the job restoration, and provide the employee a reasonable opportunity to return to work after receipt of such notice

16. Are teachers considered “key” employees?

Those who work as schoolteachers or other kinds of instructors are partially exempt from FMLA eligibility. The leave they are permitted to take may be held off until the end of a semester to maintain continuity in instruction. On the other hand, school administrators and other school personnel are FMLA eligible.

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D. FOR WHAT REASONS CAN FMLA LEAVE BE TAKEN?

17. For what reasons can I take a FMLA leave?

A covered employer must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

a. for the birth of a son or daughter, and to care for the newborn child;

b. for the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, and to care for the newly placed child;

c. to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent – but not a parent “in law”) with a serious health condition; and

d. when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Leave to care for a newborn child or for a newly placed child must conclude within 12 months after the birth or placement.

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18. What if my child is an adult?

The terms “son” and “daughter” do not include individuals who are age 18 or over, unless they are “incapable of self-care” because of mental or physical disability that limits one or more of the “major life activities” as those terms are defined in regulations issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

19. What if both spouses work for the same employer; do they get a combined 24 weeks?

No. Spouses employed by the same employer may be limited to a combined total of 12 workweeks, although a company is free to extend that, if it so chooses.

20. What if my spouse is the same sex as I am?

It seems that caring for a same-sex spouse does not make an employee eligible for FMLA leave under existing federal law. However, many employers voluntarily permit FMLA-type leave to care for a same-sex partner.

21. What qualifies as a “serious health condition?”

Serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:

a. Any period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care (that is, overnight stay) in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or

b. A period of incapacity requiring absence of more than three calendar days from work, school, or other regular daily activities that also involves continuing treatment by (or under the supervision of) a health care provider; or

c. Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, or for prenatal care; or

d. Any period of incapacity (or treatment therefor) due to a chronic serious health condition (as examples, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.); or

e. A period of incapacity that is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective (as examples, Alzheimer’s, stroke, terminal illnesses, etc.); or

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f. Any absences to receive multiple treatments (including any period of recovery therefrom) by, or on referral by, a health care provider for a condition that likely would result in incapacity of more than three consecutive days if left untreated (as examples, chemotherapy, physical therapy, dialysis, etc.).

E. REQUESTING FMLA LEAVE, AND BEING CERTIFIED FOR IT

22. How do I arrange for a FMLA leave?

Start with “FMLA Notice.” Many employers have information on FMLA leave on the company website, or in the employee manual. If yours does not, send an email to your HR representative or Director, and tell him or her that you would like all the information and forms for a FMLA leave. Fill them out carefully, and make sure that when you return them to HR, you receive a written confirmation that they received them.

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Your FMLA forms will probably include one for a doctor to certify that you, or your family member, has a serious health condition. It needs to be filled out, signed and returned.

It is very important that you expressly state on your written forms that you seek a “FMLA leave” for a serious health condition you or a family member is experiencing, and that you retain proof Not that you made the request, BUT proof that it was received; there’s a world of a difference between the two.

23. Can my employer require that a doctor certify that the leave is necessary?

Yes, many do. An employer may require that the need for leave for a serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s immediate family member be supported by a certification issued by a health care provider. The employer must allow the employee at least 15 calendar days to obtain the medical certification.

An employer may, at its own expense, require the employee to obtain a second medical certification from a health care provider. The employer may choose the health care provider for the second opinion, except that in most cases the employer may not regularly contract with or otherwise regularly use the services of the health care provider. If the opinions of the employee’s and the employer’s designated health care providers differ, the employer may require the employee to obtain certification from a third health care provider, again at the employer’s expense. This third opinion shall be final and binding. The third health care provider must be approved by the employer and the employee.

24. What kinds of health care providers can certify?

The health care providers who may provide certification of a serious health condition include:

a. Doctors of medicine or osteopathy authorized to practice medicine or surgery (as appropriate) by the state in which the doctor practices;

b. Podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists, and chiropractors (limited to treatment consisting of manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation as demonstrated by x-ray to exist) authorized to practice in the state and performing within the scope of their practice under state law;

c. Nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and clinical social workers authorized to practice under state law and performing within the scope of their practices as defined under state law;

d. Christian Science practitioners listed with the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts;

e. Any health care provider recognized by the employer or the employer’s group health plan’s benefits manager; and

f. A health care provider listed above who practices in a country other than the United States and who is authorized to practice under the laws of that country.

25. Do I have to give my employer my medical records for leave due to a serious health condition?

No. You do not have to provide medical records. The employer may, however, request that, for any leave taken due to a serious health condition, you provide a medical certification from a physician certifying that a serious health condition exists.

26. Can my employer refuse to grant me a FMLA leave?

If you are an eligible employee working for a covered employer who has met the FMLA notice and certification requirements, and you have not yet exhausted your FMLA leave entitlement for the year, you may not be denied a FMLA leave.

F. DURING YOUR FMLA LEAVE

27. What happens to my health care benefits during my FMLA leave?

A covered employer is required to maintain group health insurance coverage, including family coverage, for an employee on FMLA leave on the same terms as if the employee continued to work.

Where appropriate, arrangements will need to be made for employees taking unpaid FMLA leave to pay their own share of health insurance premiums. For example, if the group health plan involves co-payments by the employer and the employee, an employee on unpaid FMLA leave must make arrangements to pay his or her normal portion of the insurance premiums to maintain insurance coverage, as must the employer. Such payments may be made under any arrangements voluntarily agreed to by the employee and employer.

An employer’s obligation to maintain health benefits under FMLA stops if and when an employee informs the employer of an intent not to return to work at the end of the leave period, or if the employee’s premium payment is more than 30 days late and the employer has given the employee written notice of at least 15 days in advance advising that coverage will cease if payment is not received.

In some circumstances, the employer may recover premiums it paid to maintain health insurance coverage for an employee who fails to return from FMLA leave.

28. What happens to my other benefits during my FMLA leave?

Other benefits, including cash payments chosen by the employee instead of group health insurance coverage, need not be maintained during periods of unpaid FMLA leave.

Certain types of earned benefits, such as seniority or paid leave, need not continue to accrue during periods of unpaid FMLA leave provided that such benefits do not accrue for employees on other types of unpaid leave. For other benefits, such as elected life insurance coverage, the employer and the employee may make arrangements to continue benefits during periods of unpaid FMLA leave. An employer may elect to continue such benefits to ensure that the employee will be eligible to be restored to the same benefits upon returning to work. At the conclusion of the leave, the employer may recover only the employee’s share of premiums it paid to maintain other “non-health” benefits during unpaid FMLA leave.

29. Can I take unpaid FMLA leave intermittently, or as a reduced daily schedule?

FMLA permits employees to take leave on an intermittent basis, or to work a reduced schedule under certain circumstances:

a. Intermittent/reduced schedule leave may be taken when medically necessary to care for a seriously ill family member, or because of the employee’s serious health condition.

b. Intermittent/reduced schedule leave may be taken to care for a newborn or newly placed adopted or foster care child only with the employer’s approval.

Only the amount of leave actually taken while on intermittent/reduced schedule leave may be charged as FMLA leave. Employees may not be required to take more FMLA leave than necessary to address the circumstances that cause the need for leave. Employers may account for FMLA leave in the shortest period of time that their payroll systems use, provided it is one hour or less.

Employees needing intermittent/reduced schedule leave for foreseeable medical treatment must work with their employer’s to schedule the leave so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations, subject to the approval of the employee’s health care provider. In such cases, the employer may transfer the employee temporarily to an alternative job with equivalent pay and benefits that accommodates recurring periods of leave better than the employee’s regular job.

Note well: Intermittent leave is particularly unpopular with employers, and may soon be limited by statute or regulation. You would be wise to contact your HR department and the local office of the U.S. Department of Labor if you are interested in an intermittent FMLA leave.

30. Can I be required to use up accrued vacation or other personal leave during FMLA leave?

Employees may choose to use, or employers may require the employee use, accrued paid leave to cover some or all of the FMLA leave taken. Employees may choose, and employers may require, the substitution of accrued, paid vacation or personal leave for any of the situations covered by FMLA. The substitution of accrued sick or family leave is limited by the employer’s policies governing the use of such leave.

31. May I take FMLA leave for visits to a physical therapist, if my doctor prescribes the therapy?

Yes. FMLA permits you to take intermittent leave to receive “continuing treatment by a health care provider,” which can include recurring absences for therapy treatments such as those ordered by a doctor for physical therapy after a hospital stay or for treatment of serious arthritis.

32. Can my employer require me to return to work before I exhaust my leave?

Subject to certain limitations, your employer may deny the continuation of FMLA leave due to a serious health condition if you fail to fulfill any obligations to provide supporting medical certification. The employer may not, however, require you to return to work early by offering you a light duty assignment.

33. Are there any restrictions on how I spend my time while on FMLA leave?

Employers with established policies regarding outside employment while on paid or unpaid leave may uniformly apply those policies to employees on FMLA leave. Otherwise, the employer may not restrict your activities. The protections of FMLA will not, however, cover situations where the reason for leave no longer exists, where the employee has not provided required notices of certifications, or where the employee has misrepresented the reason for leave.

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34. Can my employer make inquiries about my leave during my absence?

Yes, but only to you. Your employer may ask you questions to confirm whether the leave needed or being taken qualifies for FMLA purposes, and may require periodic reports on your status and intent to return to work after leave. Also, if the employer wishes to obtain another opinion, you may be required to obtain additional medical certification at the employer’s expense, or recertification during a period of FMLA leave. The employer may have a health care provider representing the employer contact your health care provider, with your permission, to clarify information in the medical certification or to confirm it was provided by the health care provider. The inquiry may not seek information regarding your health condition or that of a family member.

35. Does an employer have to pay bonuses to employees who have been on FMLA leave?

FMLA requires that employees be restored to the same or equivalent position. If an employee was eligible for a bonus before taking FMLA leave, the employee would be eligible for the bonus upon returning to work. FMLA leave may not be counted against the employee. For example, if an employer offers a perfect attendance bonus, and the employee has not missed any time prior to taking FMLA leave, the employee would still be eligible for the bonus upon returning from FMLA leave.

On the other hand, FMLA does not require that employees on FMLA leave be allowed to accrue benefits or seniority. For example, an employee on FMLA leave might not have sufficient sales to qualify for a bonus. The employer is not required to make any special accommodation for this employee because of FMLA. The employer must, of course, treat an employee who has used FMLA leave as well as other employees on paid and unpaid leave are treated.

G. ENFORCING YOUR FMLA RIGHTS

36. How are violations of FMLA enforced?

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor investigates complaints of FMLA violation. If violations are not satisfactorily resolved, the U.S. Department of Labor may bring an action in court to compel compliance. Individuals may also bring a private civil law suit against an employer for violations.

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37. If I sue my employer for FMLA violations, what remedies can I obtain?

If your employer is found to have violated your FMLA rights, it may be held liable for each of the following:

a. Court-ordered reinstatement;

b. Court-ordered promotion;

c. Lost wages, salary, benefits, and other forms of compensation;

d. Cost of providing up to 12 weeks of care for an ill family member, newborn or newly adopted child;

e. reasonable attorneys’ fees;

f. reasonable expert witness fees; and

g. interests on each of these items.

38. Is there a deadline for suing my employer if I think it has violated my FMLA rights?

Yes. You must file a complaint under the FMLA law within two years of the date your employer violated your FMLA rights, or within three years if those violation(s) were willful.

39. Is it true that I can also sue a corporate officer personally under FMLA?

Yes. Individuals such as corporate officers who are “acting in the interest of an employer” who violate FMLA rights are individually liable for such violations.

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H. STATE LAWS THAT SUPPLEMENT FMLA COVERAGE

40. Do some states have laws that require additional benefits for leave?

Yes. Some two dozen states have enacted laws that supplement the rights and entitlements to leave of absence from work that the federal FMLA law provides.

Some states have enacted laws that provide employees rights to leave for particular purposes not noted in FMLA, such as attendance at school activities, organ or marrow donations, workers’ compensation, or disability.

Some states even require employers to pay employees while they are on family or medical leaves. As of May 2, 2008, three states – New Jersey, California and Washington – had such laws in effect.

Covered employers are required to comply with the federal or state law that provides the greater benefit to their employees. The US Department of Labor will not enforce state family and medical leave laws, and states will not enforce the federal FMLA law.

You are encouraged to contact your state’s Labor Department (or equivalent state agency or office) to inquire about your state’s leave law.

41. In what ways do state leave laws differ from FMLA?

In just about every way you can imagine, including these, and many others: (a) which employees are eligible, (b) which employers are covered, (c) the length of the leave permitted, (d) whether the leave is paid or unpaid, (e) the purposes for which the leave can be taken, (e) who is entitled to reinstatement, and (f) how the law is enforced.

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I. MISCELLANEOUS

42. Does workers’ compensation leave count against an employee’s FMLA leave entitlement?

It can. FMLA leave and workers’ compensation leave can run together, provided the reason for the absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury.

43. Can the employer count time on maternity leave or pregnancy disability as FMLA leave?

Yes. Pregnancy disability leave or maternity leave for the birth of a child would be considered qualifying FMLA leave for a serious health condition and may be counted in the 12 weeks of leave.

44. Can the employer count leave taken due to pregnancy complications against the 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth and care of my child?

Yes. An eligible employee is entitled to a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period. If the employee has to use some of that leave for another reason, including a difficult pregnancy, it may be counted as part of the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

45. Might I lose my job if I take a FMLA leave?

Generally, no. It is unlawful for any employer to interfere with or restrain or deny the exercise of any right provided under the FMLA law. Employers cannot use the taking of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary actions; nor can FMLA leave be counted under “no fault” attendance policies. Under limited circumstances, an employer may deny reinstatement to work – but not the use of FMLA leave – to certain highly-paid, salaried, “key” employees.

46. Are there any other circumstances in which my employer can deny me FMLA leave, or deny me reinstatement to my job?

In addition to denying reinstatement in certain circumstances to “key” employees, employers are not required to continue FMLA benefits or reinstate employees who would have been laid off or otherwise had their employment terminated had they continued to work during their FMLA leave period as, for example, due to a general layoff.

Employees who give unequivocal notice that they do not intend to return to work lose their entitlement to FMLA leave, and reinstatement.

Employees who are unable to return to work and have exhausted their 12 weeks of FMLA leave in the designated 12-month period no longer have FMLA protections of leave or job restoration.

Under certain circumstances, employers who advise employees experiencing a serious health condition that they will require medical certification of fitness for duty to return to work may deny reinstatement to an employee who fails to provide the certification, or may delay reinstatement until the certification is submitted.

47. Can my employer fire me for complaining about a violation of FMLA?

No. Nor can the employer take any other adverse employment action against you on this basis. It is unlawful for any employer to discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee for opposing a practice made unlawful under FMLA.

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48. Does FMLA limit the rights an employee may have under a collective bargaining agreement or employer benefit plan?

FMLA does not affect an employer’s obligation to provide greater leave rights under a collective bargaining agreement, or employment benefit plan.

49. Is my employer required to post any information about FMLA in our workplace?

Covered employers are required to post a notice approved by the U.S. Secretary of Labor in the workplace explaining rights and responsibilities under FMLA. An employer that willfully violates this posting requirement may be subject to a fine of up to $100 for each separate offense.

50. Where can I get additional information about FMLA?

Additional information can be obtained from the website of the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division: http://www/wagehour.dol.gov and by calling their toll-free helpline, available 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in each time zone: 1-866-487-9243.

P.S.: If you would like to speak with me directly about this or other workplace-related subjects, I am available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations. (Even 5-minute “Just One Question” calls). Just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can be accommodated.

Important Note: Nothing expressed above should be considered legal advice; it is not. Only an attorney licensed to practice law in your locale, who you have retained, can give you legal advice. You should not rely on the above without first confirming its continued accuracy with a licensed attorney, as the law changes every day.

SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation of work and career issues includes being aware of your legal rights, and to be ready and prepared to exercise those rights. FMLA is a particularly useful and flexible legal right, there to provide you with time off for family and health concerns. And what could be more important than family and health?

Always be proactive. Always be creative. Always be persistent. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “rewards” and eliminate or reduce employment “risks.” That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.

A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.

© 2008 Alan L. Sklover. All rights reserved. Commercial use prohibited.