New Jersey FMLA Lawyers
You Have a Rights When It Comes to Job-Protected Leave in NJ & Philadelphia
If you are expecting a new child or need to provide care for yourself or a severely ill relative, you may have a qualifying reason to take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA is a federal law that allows employees to take unpaid job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks under certain circumstances.
If your employer denies your request for FMLA despite a qualifying reason or retaliates against you for requesting or taking leave, The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. can help you take legal action. We represent workers in a variety of employment law matters and can help if you have a claim involving unfair or unlawful treatment related to FMLA leave. Our FMLA attorneys in New Jersey offer each client a personalized experience that takes their unique situation and goals into account.
What Is a Qualifying Reason?
FMLA leave is available to employees under specific circumstances, beginning with their qualified reason for requesting the leave in the first place. A qualified reason puts the “family” and “medical” into the Family Medical Leave Act, and there are currently six reasons that qualify employees for FMLA leave.
FMLA qualified reasons include the following:
- Childbirth and newborn bonding
- Adoption or foster care placement
- To care for an immediate family member’s serious health condition
- To care for the employee’s own serious health condition
- To care for a family member injured while on active duty in the military
If your reason for requesting FMLA leave doesn’t align with any of these, you may not qualify. If it does and your employer is refusing to permit leave – or has retaliated against you for requesting or taking leave – immediately contact our FMLA attorneys in New Jersey for legal assistance.
Who Is Eligible for FMLA Leave?
Unfortunately, not all employees are eligible for FMLA leave. Eligible employees must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours during the past 12 months. Eligible employees must also be posted at worksites where the company employs 50 or more other employees within a 75-mile radius.
A covered employer is a private-sector company that employed at least 50 employees for 20 or more workweeks in the preceding or current calendar year; covered employers are also government agencies, public schools, and private schools regardless of how many employees they have.
These requirements are in addition to the employee having a qualified reason to take FMLA leave.
Examples of Common FMLA Violations
Despite these many protections under the FMLA, employers can and do commit violations of the law.
Some common FMLA violations include:
- Failing to recognize a legitimate FMLA request
- Expecting or requiring too much advance notice of leave
- Harassing employees to shorten their leave
- Expecting employees on leave to work from home
- Discontinuing employee health insurance and other benefits
- Using FMLA leave days against employees in performance reviews or absence counts
- Failing to reinstate the employee to an equivalent position
What is New Jersey's Family Leave Act (NJFLA)?
The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) offers protections for employees taking leave at the state level. The NJFLA states that eligible employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave every 24 months to care for a family member's serious medical condition.
Importantly, the NJFLA does not offer time off for an employee to care for their own medical conditions. However, the NJFLA does have a wider definition of "family member" in determining leave.
In addition to children, parents, and spouses, the NJFLA considers the following as qualifying family members for leave:
- Foster children and parents
- Domestic partners
Do You Get Paid on FMLA?
Neither the FMLA nor the NJFLA require employers to pay employees taking their protected leave. However, some employers do have policies in place to pay employees partially or fully for the time they are on leave. You may still be able to receive insurance benefits if you are disabled or pregnant.
FMLA NJ Laws
New Jersey FMLA law also provides for partial paid family leave when qualifying employees take time to bond with a new child or care for a sick family member.
Employees in New Jersey qualify for paid family leave if:
- They have worked at least 20 weeks during the 52 weeks before they file their claim
- They have earned either at least $200 per week or $10,000 in total wages during that time period
Your Job Is Protected
When an employee takes leave under the FMLA or NJFLA, their employment must be restored to the same or a substantially similar job as they had prior to leave. A “substantially similar” job is one with at least equivalent pay and benefits to the job filled in the employee’s absence. Employees can also expect seniority accrual, cost of living adjustments, or unconditional raises made during their absence if coworkers taking non-FMLA leave receive these benefits as well.
Not all instances where an employee loses their job during FMLA leave are illegal. If a reduction in staff, elimination of certain positions, or any rollbacks in overtime availability and other benefits occurred, the employee on FMLA leave may be subjected to these changes. This is typically only the case if such changes would have occurred regardless of whether or not the employee took leave.
You Are Protected From Retaliation
It’s important to note here that your employer is prohibited from retaliating against you in any way for requesting or taking leave. This means employers are prohibited from taking adverse actions as a direct result of you taking your protected leave.
Some ways employers can illegally retaliate against an employee taking protected leave include:
- Refusing to hire an employee due to them taking leave at a previous job
- Demoting or refusing to promote an employee because they took or requested leave
- Factoring FMLA or other protected leave into performance reviews
- Counting absences covered under protected leave toward work attendance policies
- Removing benefits or key job responsibilities from an employee due to them taking or requesting leave
If you lost your job or faced setbacks at work while on FMLA leave, consult with our FMLA lawyers in New Jersey for help. The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. proudly represents clients in FMLA disputes, making sure their rights are protected throughout the process.
When Should I Contact an FMLA Lawyer?
Remember, your employer is legally prohibited from taking action against you for requesting or taking FMLA leave. This means they can’t fire you, demote you, count your time off under FMLA as part of their absence policy, or penalize you in any other way for utilizing this benefit.
If you suspect your rights were violated at any point in the process, contact our FMLA attorneys for help. We can also assist you if you need to file a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development or initiate legal action against your employer.
Your time off should be spent bonding with a new child or helping a loved one through a health crisis – not fighting unfair treatment at work. Our team is here to help you protect your rights and hold your employer accountable for any FMLA violations.
Reasons for Filing an FMLA Lawsuit and When to Contact an Attorney
There are several circumstances under which you may need to file an FMLA lawsuit and seek legal counsel from a medical leave attorney. Here are some common scenarios:
- FMLA Requests Denied: Your employer denies a valid FMLA leave request. If you qualify for FMLA leave and your employer refuses your request, you have the right to take legal action.
- Retaliation for FMLA Leave: You face retaliation from your employer for taking or requesting FMLA leave. This could involve being fired, demoted, or subjected to punitive measures for using your FMLA rights.
- FMLA Transfer Denial: You return from FMLA leave and are not reinstated to your original position or a similar one. FMLA requires that employers place workers back into their original position or one with equivalent pay, benefits, and responsibilities.
- FMLA Coverage Issues: Your employer disputes your eligibility for FMLA leave. If your employer challenges your eligibility, a medical leave attorney can help you understand your rights and fight for your FMLA protection.
- Employer Interference: Your employer interferes with your FMLA rights. This might involve discouraging you from taking FMLA leave, changing your job duties, or placing unreasonable demands on you while you're on leave.
- Questionable Termination: You were laid off while on FMLA leave, and there's reason to suspect the layoff was not legitimate. For instance, if your job was eliminated but no other positions were, or if your responsibilities were distributed among other employees.
If you find yourself facing any of these situations, it is crucial to contact an FMLA attorney immediately. Our team of FMLA lawyers at The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. is dedicated to ensuring that your rights are protected.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
If you were denied FMLA leave or experienced any kind of retaliation for requesting or taking FMLA leave, reach out to The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. for help. Your rights need to be upheld by holding your employer accountable for their actions, and our FMLA attorneys in New Jersey can offer the legal support you need.
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