Is it Legal for an Employer to Deny FMLA Leave?

The simple answer is no. When a company denies an employee’s eligible and proper request for time off under the federal Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), they are breaking the law. Furthermore, an employer is prohibited from requiring an employee to perform work while he or she is out on approved FMLA leave. Notably, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who is eligible for FMLA and requests leave under this federal law. 

Understanding FMLA

The Family & Medical Leave Act, referred to as FMLA, is a federal law providing job protection to eligible employees who need to take time off for medical reasons. If an eligible employee takes FMLA, the employer cannot fire the worker for taking time off and must hold the position until the worker returns or the leave ends. FMLA covers certain employers, including those:

  • In the public sector, regardless of the number of employees;
  • Public and private elementary and secondary schools, regardless of the number of employees;
  • Private sector employers that have 50 or more employees during 20 or more workweeks during the current or prior calendar year.

In order for an employee to be eligible for FMLA, he or she must meet all of the following:

  • Work for an employer covered by FMLA;
  • Worked for the covered employer for a minimum of 12 months;
  • Worked a minimum of 1,250 hours for the covered employer during the 12-month period right before the leave occurs or is requested;

Workers who are covered under FMLA are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. The permitted reasons to seek FMLA include:

  • For the worker’s own serious health condition, which prevents him or her from performing the job;To care for a newborn child within a year of that child’s birth;
  • To care for a foster or adopted child within one year of the child’s placement with the worker;
  • To care for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition;
  • For any qualifying emergency related to a child, spouse, or parent who is an active duty military member.

A worker’s leave under FMLA may be continuous or intermittent, and leave may be taken in periods of hours, days, or weeks. Notably, FMLA does not mandate that employers provide paid leave. That being said, an employer may require that a worker use any accrued paid time when taking FMLA.

What Can I Do if Illegally Denied FMLA?

FMLA leave is administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“DOL”). A worker who believes he or she has been wrongfully denied FMLA can contact their local Wage and Hour Division for help in filing a complaint with the DOL. The DOL will investigate the claim, and if a violation is found, address it. If the DOL’s negotiations with the employer fail, it may sue the company on behalf of the employee.

If you or someone you know has been hurt in Las Vegas, or the greater Nevada area, contact the attorneys at H&P Law to find out your rights and obligations under the law. 

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