The Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. §2601, et seq. (“FMLA”) provides that eligible employees may take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave during any twelve-month period, for any of four general reasons:

  • For the birth and care of a newborn child;
  • Adoption placement;
  • Care for an immediate family member (spouse, parent, or child) with a serious health condition; or
  • Due to the employee’s inability to work resulting from a serious health condition.

Please note that employees may have additional rights to leave for military duty or purposes under USERRA. In general, employers covered by the FMLA must have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks preceding the filing of a federal complaint, and must be engaged in commerce or in any industry affecting commerce. In order to be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months and at least 1250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding the leave. Further, the employee must work at a site where there are at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

Generally, an employer may not interfere with any eligible employee’s FMLA rights. It is a violation of the FMLA to fail to notify or inform an employee of his or her FMLA rights once the employer has notice of any condition that may qualify them for leave. It is also a violation to deny an employee of properly requested leave, or to fail to reinstate the employee at the end of leave. Employees must be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position after return from leave. Further, the employer is prohibited from retaliating against any employee for exercising his or her rights under the FMLA. It is not necessary to file a charge with any administrative agency before filing a federal lawsuit under the FMLA. However, a claim must be filed within two years of the unlawful act. If the employer has willfully violated the FMLA, an employee has three years to file suit.

A successful plaintiff who sues his or her employer for a violation of the FMLA may be entitled to back pay, actual monetary loss sustained as a result of the violation (up to 12 weeks of pay), and liquidated damages equal to the amount of money lost by the plaintiff, injunctive relief, court and related costs, and attorneys’ fees.

Contact an experienced St. Louis FMLA lawyer today if you would like to discuss your situation.