Filing a Complaint Under the Family and Medical Leave Act
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What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 was enacted to provide medical leave for employees. The required leave is unpaid and may continue for up to 12 weeks. During that time, the employee's job is protected and he or she may not be terminated. If an employer fails to live up to his responsibilities under the FMLA, an employee may have a complaint. While some states may have their own versions of the FMLA, employees in other states can only rely on the FMLA for any type of protected medical or family leave.
Is there a Time Period for Filing a Complaint?
If you are an employee who has a potential complaint against your employer, you usually have two years from the date of the alleged violation to file a complaint. If, however, you can show that your employer acted willfully in violating the FMLA, you may have three years to file your complaint. It is generally recommended that you file a complaint as soon as possible.
Can I File a Complaint with the Secretary of Labor?
You may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor. You should contact the nearest office of the Wage and Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. Record your complaint in writing and then present it in person, by letter, or by phone. At that point, the merits of your complaint will be reviewed. If the Department does decide to take action, it will first try to solve your problem administratively by negotiating with the employer. If these negotiations are unsuccessful and if it believes the FMLA was in fact violated, the Secretary may sue the employer on behalf of the employee.
Can I Sue My Employer?
If you wish to file a lawsuit in a court, it is not necessary to notify the Secretary of Labor. In a lawsuit, an employee may be able to walk away with:
- A favorable judgment
- Reasonable expert witness fees
- Reasonable attorney's fees
- Other costs
What Remedies are Available?
If the employer has indeed violated the FMLA, the employee may recover:
- Employment benefits and other compensation
- Actual monetary loss, including:
- The cost of providing care (i.e. to a family member)
- Liquidated damages
- Some forms of equitable relief, including:
Do I Need an Experienced Employment Law Attorney?
An experienced lawyer would be able to inform you of your rights under the FMLA. A lawyer would also be able to represent you if you feel that it is necessary to bring a lawsuit against your employer for any FMLA violation.
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Last Modified: 01-24-2017 05:35 PM PST
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