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Employment Rights Under the FMLA

If a family medical emergency causes you to miss work, you should be able to keep your job. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to employees for family and medical reasons. To be eligible, your employer must have at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius and you must have worked for them for at least one year (for a minimum of 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months). If you lose your job for requesting or taking medical leave, you may also have a case for wrongful termination.

As long as you have not exhausted your allotted leave time, you are entitled:

  1. To be restored by your employer to the position of employment held when the leave commenced.
  2. To be restored to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. 29 U.S.C.A. § 2614(a).

Unpaid leave must be granted to care for your child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care; to care for your spouse, child, or parent, who has a serious health condition; or for a serious health condition that prevents you from being able to do your job.


Typically, you must provide 30 days’ advance notice if the leave is considered “foreseeable.” Your employer may also require medical certification to support your request for leave because of a serious health condition and may require a second or third opinion (at the employer’s expense) or a fitness for duty report to return to work. Taking of leave may be denied if such requirements are not met.

Wrongful Termination

Terminating an employee for asserting his or her FMLA rights is cause for a discrimination claim. Damages for such a claim include:

  1. Lost wages and benefits plus statutory interest under 29 U.S.C.A. § 2617(a)(1)(A)(i), (ii)
  2. Liquidated damages or “double damages,” pursuant to 29 U.S.C.A. § 2617(a)(1)(A)(iii), above the damages for lost wages and benefits for terminating the FMLA covered employee.
  3. Equitable relief in the form of front pay pursuant to 29 U.S.C.A. § 2617(a)(1)(B).
  4. Payment of the employee’s attorneys’ fees pursuant to 29 U.S.C.A. § 2617(a)(3).

If you feel like you have a claim under the FMLA or if you were wrongfully discharged or discriminated against while on medical leave, you need an attorney on your side who is experienced with employment law. Contact The Lawyers of Brown & Roberto today for a free consultation. Give us a call at (865) 691-2777 or contact us through our website Brown & Roberto, PLLC to set up a free consultation.

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