When a qualified employee is pregnant or has a serious medical condition, they are guaranteed a certain amount of leave time and job security under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Unfortunately, it is common for employers to violate this law through pregnancy discrimination, failing to recognize the employee’s medical condition, or denying them the leave they are entitled to, among other infractions. If you are denied your rights regarding family leave, our experienced FMLA lawyers can get you the compensation you deserve.
FMLA violations often overlap with other forms of employment discrimination, including:
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Gender Discrimination
- Marital Status Discrimination
- Pumping & Breastfeeding in the Workplace
- Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
With offices in Red Bank, NJ and Marlton, NJ, McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. has experience in representing employees who have been denied their protections under the FMLA. If you have been the target of discrimination because of your pregnancy or medical conditions, your employer may be responsible to compensate you for economic damages and your pain and suffering.
What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees of covered employers are entitled to leave for specific family or medical reasons. This federal law provides eligible employees unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks. For example, new parents with newborns may take leave under the FMLA.
Although there are specific conditions and requirements to be eligible for this type of leave, the FMLA ensures that employees will continue to have healthcare benefits and job protection throughout their period of absence from work.
Who is Eligible for FMLA Protection?
To be eligible under the FMLA, employees must have worked a minimum total of 1,250 hours for their employer to request FMLA leave. Under FMLA, employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius are required to provide 12 unpaid work weeks of leave to eligible employees annually.
The medical conditions protected under the FMLA are specific and include:
- Birth of a child and time to bond with the newborn.
- Placement and bonding time with an adopted child or foster care child.
- Care of a spouse, child, biological or adoptive parent with a serious medical or health condition.
- FMLA protection covers leave for an employee’s own serious health condition.
- Care of a seriously wounded or ill spouse, child, or parent active in the military, including the National Guard, Reserves, or other branches of the military.
- In the case of leave requested for an active duty military family member, the laws allow for 26 weeks of unpaid leave.
Job Security Under FMLA
Upon return to work, the employee is entitled to their previous position without demotion or salary reduction. If the position is no longer available, the employer must offer the employee a position similar in salary, benefits, and status. If a layoff or reduction in force took place while the employee was out on leave, the worker would still be eligible for the same rights and protections as those employees that were not on leave.
FMLA and Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnancy discrimination is one of the most common forms of employment discrimination in New Jersey. In 2019, $22.4 million was paid out in pregnancy discrimination charges filed with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in the United States. Pregnancy discrimination can occur in a variety of ways, including harassment, failure to accommodate medical appointments, pay disparity, refusal to hire, refusal to provide leave, or retaliation for taking leave or becoming pregnant.
Violation of the FMLA is a common form of pregnancy discrimination. This includes refusing pregnancy leave or time off, terminating or disciplining an employee for taking leave, or failing to hire new mothers back to the same or a similar position with the same salary and benefits.
Occupations and workplaces where pregnancy discrimination is common include:
- Doctors’ Offices And Healthcare Fields
- Housekeeping And Janitorial Workers
- Administrative Assistants
- Dental Offices
- Bars and Restaurants
Common FMLA Violations
Firing an employee for taking leave is an obvious violation of the FMLA, but there are many other types of violations that employers can make that are not as clear cut.
- Misunderstanding what counts as a serious medical condition.
- Disciplining employees for taking leave for a legitimate reason.
- Discontinuing health insurance while the employee is on leave.
- Excessive contact with the employee about work-related issues while on leave.
- Pressuring the employee to return to work early.
- Demoting an employee who returns from leave or offering lower salary or benefits.
- Misclassifying an employee as a ‘key employee’ and claiming that they are not required to be reinstated on the basis of economic harm to the company.
- Delaying reinstatement to an employee’s position after they return from leave.
If any of these situations has happened to you, or you feel that your rights under the FMLA have otherwise been violated, contact our law firm as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Retaliation Due To FMLA
It is not uncommon for employers to unlawfully retaliate after employees use FMLA time. Thankfully, New Jersey state and federal laws exist to protect individuals against retaliatory acts by their employer for protected activity such as taking family medical leave, pregnancy leave, or seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Retaliation can include termination, demotion, unfair disciplinary measures, or any other unfavorable action. If you are subjected to workplace retaliation for putting your health first, the FMLA lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. may be able to protect your career.
Experienced New Jersey FMLA Lawyers Can Help You
If you are an eligible employee and you have been denied your rights under the FMLA, or faced retaliation in the workplace for making a complaint, contact the FMLA lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. today. We have offices in Red Bank, NJ and Marlton, NJ and serve clients throughout the state. We can discuss your situation with you and help you determine the best course of action to get the compensation you deserve.