Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) May Prevent Me From Being Fired For Filing a Maryland Workers Compensation Claim

Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may prevent me from being fired for filing a Maryland Workers Compensation claim

If your employers have 50 or more employees there may be additional protections under federal law for employees injured on the job.

family medical leave act

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides

  1. certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year.
  2. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.
  3. Under some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis. That means an employee may take leave in separate blocks of time or by reducing the time he or she works each day or week for a single qualifying reason.
  4. When leave is needed for planned medical treatment, the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations.
  5. Under certain conditions, employees may choose, or employers may require employees, to “substitute” (run concurrently) accrued paid leave, such as sick or vacation leave, to cover some or all of the FMLA leave period. An employee’s ability to substitute accrued paid leave is determined by the terms and conditions of the employer’s normal leave policy.

FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women.

FMLA applies

  1. to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees.
  2. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:
  3. for the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;

for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;

  1. to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  2. to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;

Employees are eligible for leave if they have

  1. worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12- month period immediately preceding the leave. The 12 months of employment do not have to be consecutive. That means any time previously worked for the same employer (including seasonal work) could, in most cases, be used to meet the 12-month requirement. and
  2. Private-sector employer
  3. work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including a joint employer or successor in interest to a covered employer or
  4. Public agency, including a local, state, or Federal government agency, regardless of the number of employees it employs; or
  5. Public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of employees it employs.

Notice requirements

  1. Employees generally must request leave 30 days in advance when the need for leave is foreseeable. When the need for leave is foreseeable less than 30 days in advance or is unforeseeable, employees must provide notice as soon as possible and practicable under the circumstances.
  2. When an employee seeks leave for a FMLA-qualifying reason for the first time, the employee need not expressly assert FMLA rights or even mention the FMLA. If an employee later requests additional leave for the same qualifying condition, the employee must specifically reference either the qualifying reason for leave or the need for FMLA leave.
  3. When an employee requests FMLA leave or the employer acquires knowledge that leave may be for a FMLA-qualifying reason, provide the employee with notice concerning his or her eligibility for FMLA leave and his or her rights and responsibilities under the FMLA; and
  4. Notify employees whether leave is designated as FMLA leave and the amount of leave that will be deducted from the employee’s FMLA entitlement.

When an employee requests FMLA leave due to his or her own serious health condition or a covered family member’s serious health condition, the employer

  1. may require certification in support of the leave from a health care provider.
  2. An employer may also require second or third medical opinions (at the employer’s expense) and
  3. An employer may also require periodic recertification of a serious health condition.

Upon return from FMLA leave,

  1. an employee must be restored to his or her original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.
  2. An employee’s use of FMLA leave cannot be counted against the employee under a “no-fault” attendance policy.
  3. Employers are also required to continue group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA leave under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.

It is unlawful for any employer to

  1. interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise any right provided by the FMLA.
  2. It is also unlawful for an employer to discharge or discriminate against any individual for opposing any practice, or because of involvement in any proceeding, related to the FMLA.
  3. The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for administering and enforcing the FMLA for most employees. Most federal and certain congressional employees are also covered by the law but are subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or Congress. If you believe that your rights under the FMLA have been violated, you may file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division or file a private lawsuit against your employer in court.
  4. For additional information, visit our Wage and Hour Division Website http://www.wagehour.dol.gov and /or call our toll-free information and helpline, available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your time zone, 1-866-4-USWAGE (1-866-487-9243).
  5. Baltimore District Office  US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division
    2 Hopkins Plaza, Room 601 Baltimore, MD 21201 Phone: (410) 962-6211 1-866-4-USWAGE
  6. Arlington Area Office US Dept. of Labor Wage & Hour Division
    2300 Clarendon Blvd, Suite 503 Arlington, VA 22201 Phone: (703) 235-1182
  7. Hyattsville Area Office US Dept. of Labor Wage & Hour Division
    6525 Belcrest Road Suite 250 Hyattsville, MD 20782

Investigations for violating the Family Medical Leave act are done as follows

  1. An investigator from Wage and Hour Division may conduct an investigation to determine whether these laws apply to an employer.
  2. If the employer is subject to these laws, the investigator will verify that workers are paid and employed properly according to the laws administered.
  3. An investigator may also visit an employer to provide information about the application of, and compliance with, the labor laws administered by Wage and Hour Division.
  4. All complaints are confidential; the name of the worker and the nature of the complaint are not disclosable; whether a complaint exists may not be disclosed.
  5. In addition to complaints, WHD selects certain types of businesses or industries for investigation.
  6. There are no charges to file a complaint or for the WHD to conduct an investigation.
  7. The FLSA contains a two-year statute of limitations (three-years for willful violations). This means that any part of a back- wage claim which was earned more than two years before a federal court lawsuit is filed may not be collectible.
  8. Section 11(a) of the FLSA authorizes representatives of the Department of Labor to investigate and gather data concerning wages, hours, and other employment practices; enter and inspect an employer’s premises and records; and question employees to determine whether any person has violated any provision of the FLSA.
  9. An investigation consists of the following steps:
  10. Examination of records to determine which laws or exemptions apply. These records include, for example, those showing the employer’s annual dollar volume of business transactions, involvement in interstate commerce, and work on government contracts. Information from an employer’s records will not be revealed to unauthorized persons.
  11. Examination of payroll and time records and taking notes or making transcriptions or photocopies essential to the investigation.
  12. Interviews with certain employees in private. The purpose of these interviews is to verify the employer’s payroll and time records, to identify workers’ particular duties in sufficient detail to decide which exemptions apply, if any, and to confirm that minors are legally employed. Interviews are normally conducted on the employer’s premises. In some instances, present and former employees may be interviewed at their homes or by mail or telephone.
  13. When all the fact-finding steps have been completed, the investigator will ask to meet with the employer and/or a representative of the firm who has authority to reach decisions and commit the employer to corrective actions if violations have occurred. The employer will be told whether violations have occurred and, if so, what they are and how to correct them. If back wages are owed to employees because of violations, the investigator will request payment of back wages and may ask the employer to compute the amounts due.
  14. The FLSA gives the Department of Labor (“Department”) the authority to recover back wages and liquidated damages (to be paid to employees), and to assess civil money penalties (to be paid to the government), in instances of minimum wage, overtime, and other violations.
  15. The Department makes every effort to resolve most compliance issues administratively. If appropriate, the Department may litigate and/or recommend criminal prosecution.
  16. The Department may file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of employees for back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.
  17. The Department may seek a U.S. District Court injunction to restrain violations of the law, including the unlawful withholding of proper minimum wage and overtime pay, failure to keep proper records, and retaliation against employees who file complaints and/or cooperate with the Department.
  18. The Department may seek an order for payment of civil money penalties from a U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge where appropriate.
  19. Employers who have willfully violated the law may be subject to criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
  20. An employee may file a private suit to recover back wages, an equal amount in liquidated damages, plus attorney’s fees and court costs. In such a case, the Department will not seek the same back wages and liquidated damages on that employee’s behalf.
  21. Employees who have filed complaints or provided information cannot be discriminated against or discharged on account of such activity. If adverse action is taken against an employee for engaging in protected activity, the affected employee or the Secretary of Labor may file suit for relief, including reinstatement to his/her job, payment of lost wages, and damages.

For more info on workers comp in Maryland, CLICK HERE. 


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