The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal employment law providing eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. For instance, an employee who qualifies under FMLA can take leave for pregnancy and birth, for adoption, for a serious illness, or to care for a sick family member. Following FMLA medical leave, Texas employers must allow employees to return to their former positions at the same level of wages and benefits. Violations of the Texas Family and Medical Leave Act can lead to serious consequences for employers. Do you have questions about your employee rights under FMLA, FMLA eligibility, or about the FMLA guidelines? If so, schedule a consultation with FMLA attorney Dan A. Atkerson in Allen, TX, who can provide sound legal guidance.
FMLA Eligibility in Texas
To reach FMLA eligibility, an employee must work for a company that employs 50 or more employees at a worksite or within 75 miles of a worksite. An employee only qualifies for FMLA coverage if he or she has worked for the employer for at least one year and has worked at least 1,250 hours over the last 12-month period. However, if you earn a salary that is among the top ten percent highest paid of employees working within 75 miles of your worksite, or if allowing you to take FMLA leave would cause economic harm to your company, your employer may have the right to deny you FMLA benefits.
Can I Use FMLA to Care for My Family?
One situation that qualifies an employee for FMLA coverage is the need to care for an immediate family member. FMLA guidelines define an immediate family member as the spouse, child or parent of the employee. This definition does not include in-laws (parents of the employee’s spouse) or children over the age of 18. There is an exception for children over the age of 18 with a mental or physical disability that limits one or more major life activities and renders him/her incapable of self-care.
An employee only qualifies for FMLA coverage if he or she has worked for the employer for at least one year and has worked at least 1,250 hours over the last 12-month period.
Documents Needed to Prove Eligibility
Texas employment laws state that your employer cannot require you to provide medical records regarding your own medical conditions or those of your immediate family member to qualify for Family and Medical Leave Act coverage. However, your employer can require that you provide medical certification that a serious illness or medical condition exists on a periodic basis to take disability leave.
Combining Texas Family and Medical Leave Act with Other Types of Leave
You can first use your available paid leave time before using unpaid FMLA leave. This can include vacation, personal time, and sick time. Your employer may require you to do so. Any paid time that you may or must use then counts against the 12 weeks of guaranteed leave under FMLA. Texas workers’ compensation leave can also run alongside FMLA leave. This is the case as long as the employer promptly advises the employee that workers’ comp leave applies towards FMLA leave. This notification should be in writing.
What Happens if an Employer Violates My FMLA Rights?
The Family and Medical Leave Act protects Texas employee rights to take unpaid leave for health reasons. However, if an employer denies maternity leave, paternity leave, disability leave, or any other type of FMLA leave to an eligible employee, or takes adverse actions in employer retaliation against an employee for exercising his or her right to FMLA leave, the employer can face penalties set forth by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
Speak with an Attorney Today
Time is of the essence when upholding your Family and Medical Leave rights. Employees have only two years from the date of FMLA violation to report the issue to the DOL. Please take a moment to send us a message or give us a call as soon as possible at (214) 383-3606, so Mr. Atkerson can ensure the law upholds your FMLA rights.