New Jersey FMLA Lawyer
FMLA stands for the Family and Medical Leave Act. It was enacted in 1993 and for the first time guaranteed employees the right to take job-protected leave for certain family or medical reasons. Some aspects of the FMLA can seem complicated, and employers might not always understand how to apply its provisions appropriately. Other times, they might actively try to deny employees their FMLA rights because they don’t want to deal with the disruption of having an employee on leave. A New Jersey employment law attorney can make sure your rights are protected under the FMLA or its state-level equivalent, the New Jersey Family Leave Act. If your legitimate request for FMLA leave was wrongfully denied, or if you were discriminated against or retaliated against at work for trying to use FMLA leave, the employment law attorneys at Poulos LoPiccolo can help. Contact our experienced New Jersey FMLA lawyers for a free consultation regarding your potential claims and the remedies available.
Facts About the FMLA
The FMLA provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave every year for one of the following reasons:
- For the birth of a child and to care for a newborn within one year of birth
- For the placement of a child in the home for adoption or foster care and to care for the child within one year of placement
- To care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition, as defined in the law
- If the employee has a serious health condition that makes them unable to perform the essential functions of the job
Amendments to the FMLA added 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a qualifying exigency based on a spouse, child or parent being a covered military member on covered activity duty. The amendments also provide up to 26 weeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness who is the employee’s spouse, child, parent or next of kin.
To be eligible to take FMLA leave for one of the reasons listed above, you must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months and completed at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12 months immediately before submitting the leave request. A covered employer is a private employer with 50 or more employees, or a public agency or public or private school regardless of the number of employees. To be eligible, you must work at a worksite with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of your location.
FMLA leave does not have to be taken all at once, and in some cases, employees can take FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule. To the extent practicable, employees should try to schedule leave with their employer in a way that won’t unduly disrupt operations. Special rules apply to teachers and school employees taking intermittent leave.
Although FMLA leave is unpaid, employees can choose to substitute accrued paid leave, or employers can require employees to use up their paid leave to cover FMLA leave, depending on the circumstances.
Your job is protected while you are on FMLA leave. When you return, you are entitled to be restored to your same job or an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Also, your group health insurance coverage should be continued as though you never took leave.
What if My FMLA Rights Have Been Violated?
Employers are prohibited from interfering with your exercise of FMLA leave, including attempting to deny your rights or discharge you or discriminate against you for requesting leave, taking leave, or participating in an investigation. If you feel your FMLA rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL WHD). They will investigate your complaint and may decide to pursue an enforcement action against the employer.
You don’t have to file a complaint with DOL WHD or wait for them to finish their investigation. The FMLA gives you the right to file your own lawsuit against your employer. If you choose to 6sue, you should do so within two years from the date of the violation.
In civil court, you will bear the burden of proving your case against the employer, so you will want to be represented by an experienced FMLA employment law attorney who knows the law, the court system, and how to build and present a strong case on your behalf. If successful on your claim, you could receive the following:
- Reinstatement if wrongfully terminated
- Lost wages or benefits, including back pay with interest
- Financial losses sustained, such as having to hire caretakers or incurring additional medical expenses
- Compensation for your emotional distress and psychological harm
- Attorney’s fees and costs of pursuing your case
Experienced FMLA Lawyers Serving Ocean, Monmouth & Middlesex County
If you have been denied protected leave or retaliated against at work for taking or requesting FMLA leave, the New Jersey employment lawyers at Poulos LoPiccolo will advocate for you, vindicate your rights, and recover money damages for any harm you suffered. With our fees and costs paid for by the employer, you’ll get to keep the full amount of any monies awarded to you. Call our experienced NJ FMLA lawyers today for a free consultation.