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Understanding your right to protected leave from your job

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows those who work for covered employers to take job-protected, unpaid leave when certain medical and family reasons arise. During the leave, group health coverage continues as if the individual was still on the job, which is ideal for situations in which parents have adopted, someone is off work for medical leave or when someone takes time off to give birth or welcome a new baby into the family.

According to the FMLA, employers are not allowed to interfere with your right to exercise your FMLA rights. Employers aren't legally allowed to retaliate against employees who exercise their FMLA rights and can't discriminate based on a prospective employee or current employee's use of the FMLA's guaranteed rights.

During leave protected by the FMLA, an employer is not able to fire or terminate you. Employers are also not legally allowed to manipulate your work hours to avoid having to allow FMLA leave or encourage you to avoid taking leave in any way.

Employers covered by FMLA laws include public agencies and private-sector employers with 50 or more employees during 20 or more weeks during the year.

If you wish to take FMLA leave and are denied, you can pursue legal options against the employer. It is your right to take leave when you need it, thanks to the FMLA, but your employer must fall under the right categorization for the FMLA to protect you. Your attorney can help you understand if you qualify for protected leave and how to obtain that leave if you were denied.

Source: Littner Deschler & Littner, "Family and Medical Leave Act," accessed June 13, 2018

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