Experienced Houston Attorney Counsels Clients on the Family and Medical Leave Act

Accomplished Texas employment lawyer helps workers and businesses

When dealing with a serious medical crisis or significant family issue, workers shouldn’t have to choose between their job and taking care of what’s most important. Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in 1993 to give employees the ability to deal with temporary personal challenges without worrying that they’ll be fired. Located in Houston, the Law Offices of David C. Holmes advocates for Texas FMLA claimants and also assists businesses that have questions or concerns about the law.  

What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

At some point in time, many employees need time off from work to deal with family concerns or medical issues. The FMLA gives all full-time employees who have worked at their company for at least a year the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for one of the following reasons:

  • The birth and care of a newborn child of the employee
  • Placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care
  • To care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
  • To undergo medical treatment and recovery for serious health conditions that prevent the employee from working
  • To care for an injured service member

Employees who qualify for leave, and who follow the procedures specified in the FMLA, are not only entitled to leave, but are entitled to restoration to their prior position or an equivalent position unless certain narrow exceptions are met. Houston employment law attorney David C. Holmes guides both employers and employees on FMLA matters and can evaluate how the law applies to your particular situation.

What types of employers are subject to FMLA provisions?

Not every employee of a private business Is automatically granted FMLA protections. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are not covered by the law. However, all public workers are entitled to FMLA benefits regardless of how many people work within their specific unit. Many small businesses not subject to the act’s provisions do maintain some type of leave policy because they understand how it can lead to a more loyal, productive workforce.

Common FMLA compliance concerns

Businesses that are required to honor FMLA rights risk serious sanctions if they don’t comply. You can count on us for knowledgeable counsel for a whole range of compliance issues, such as:

  • Eligibility and certification requirements — We guide employers through complex questions relating to FMLA eligibility and medical certification as well as disputes that might arise. 
  • Layoffs and equivalent positions — It is legal to dismiss a worker on FMLA leave if as the layoff is not because of the leave. When a position changes while the employee is out, we advise if a new role is likely to qualify as an equivalent position.
  • Intermittent leave and reduced hours — In certain instances, workers can address personal issues by taking leave intermittently or shortening their work day rather than taking one extended break.

An employer that violates the FMLA can face a claim for liquidated damages covering lost back pay and future earnings resulting from the violation. Attorneys’ fees and costs might also be awarded.

Family and Medical Leave Act requirements

If a worker can reasonably anticipate that they will need FMLA leave, they must give their employer 30 days’ notice. This can come into play when someone is preparing for childbirth or is scheduled for a medical procedure. In urgent situations, you should notify your employer as soon as you know of the need, particularly if a question might exist as to whether FMLA applies. When a business disputes that the requested leave does not qualify under FMLA, they have five days to notify the employee of their decision.  

Job restoration for FMLA claimants

Sometimes, a worker who is on FMLA leave will find upon their return that their job has changed. In these instances, employees are entitled to a position with a similar work schedule and responsibilities. If you’re put in a role that is significantly different from the job you left, you could be entitled to relief, particularly if you’re forced into a less desirable position. Whatever motivated your FMLA leave, you should keep your supervisors apprised of your return to work plans so that they don’t try to dismiss you by claiming you abandoned your job.  

 Contact an experienced Texas attorney to discuss a Family and Medical Leave Act issue

The Law Offices of David C. Holmes advises Texas workers and businesses on a full range of issues relating to the Family and Medical Leave Act. Please call (713) 586-8862 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with a qualified attorney. Our office is in Houston.