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Protecting your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act

Life is uncertain, and there are times that you may find you are unable to work while dealing with a medical condition or that of a loved one. Having a baby, dealing with a serious illness or taking care of a family member with a critical medical condition can all affect your ability to work for a period, but these issues should not compromise your right to retain your job.

The Family and Medical Leave Act is legislation that protects the interests of all workers. This act provides employees, including those in Florida, with the ability to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to address a physical condition, recover after the birth of a child or provide care to a loved one. Violations of your rights per the FMLA could be grounds for legal action.

Who and what does the FMLA cover?

Not everyone benefits from the FMLA. This act exclusively covers those employed in public or private schools, public agencies and any company with at least 50 employees. It guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with a medical event or issue, as well as a guaranteed continuation of all benefits. Events considered grounds for FMLA leave include the following:

  • Adoption of a child or new foster child placement into employee's home
  • Birth and care of a newborn baby
  • Caring for an immediate family member, such as a spouse, with a serious medical condition
  • Serious health condition that affects worker's ability to work

In order to quality for FMLA leave, you must have an employment history of at least 12 months with your current employer. The location of your work, plus the number of hours you have worked could also affect your eligibility. It is wise for all workers, no matter their job description or health status, to understand their rights regarding medical leave under the FMLA.

What happens when there is a violation of your rights?

If you believe that your employer violated your rights or discriminated against you in any way, you have the right to take legal action. Violating your right to leave under the FMLA is illegal and inexcusable, and you may have a rightful claim to financial compensation.

It can be useful to start by seeking a complete explanation of your rights and legal options. Moving forward with a civil claim is not a simple process, but it could be the most appropriate way to stand up for your rights if medical needs resulted in your termination, threats of termination or loss of benefits.

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Barker Cook

501 East Kennedy Boulevard, Suite 1040
Tampa, FL 33602

Phone: 813-489-1001
Fax: 813-489-1008
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