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What Are My Rights Under the FMLA?

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What Are My Rights Under the FMLA?

If you or a family member should ever be struck by a serious illness or medical condition, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you certain rights to take time off from work. Employees must meet certain conditions to be granted this type of leave, but if they do meet these conditions, they are eligible to return to work at an equivalent position with the same benefits.

While most employers adhere to the provisions of the FMLA, disputes often arise that put hard working employees against an employer they rely on for the job that allows them to provide for their family. When this happens, the employee may file FMLA lawsuits and recover various forms of compensation.

What is the FMLA?

Any employee with a serious health condition requiring in-patient treatment or ongoing treatment by a physician is eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work. The key is that the condition must be serious, such as an illness, injury, mental condition, or even the birth or adoption of a child.

Employees may take all 12 weeks of leave at once or use them in parts to resolve their health issues. Workers are also eligible to work a reduced schedule, in certain circumstances.

Qualifications for FMLA

There are certain conditions employees must meet to qualify for leave under the FMLA. The individual must have worked for their employer for at least one year, encompassing 1,250 work hours (approximately an average of 24 hours per week).

Furthermore, the business must have at least 50 employees working within a 75-mile radius of the company’s location. State and federal agencies must provide leave under the FMLA no matter the size of the business.

What can I recover if my employer violates the FMLA?

Employees discriminated against under the FMLA are able to file civil suits to recover various forms of compensation. These FMLA lawsuits must be filed within two years of the alleged incident or the employee may lose legal standing to recover damages.

FMLA lawsuits can recover damages for:

  • Back wages plus interest
  • Reimbursement for medical care of family member
  • Reinstatement
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Liquidated damages if the employer acted in bad faith

Chicago FMLA lawyers

If you feel your rights were violated under the FMLA, contact or call 312.332.6733 our office for a consultation about your case. Our Chicago FMLA lawyers can investigate the circumstances of your case and determine your best course of legal action.

How Do I Prove Whistleblower Retaliation?

As a matter of public policy, state and federal governments encourage individuals with intimate knowledge of fraud, waste, and abuse of governmental programs to step forward and report the wrongdoing. Under federal laws like the False Claims Act, these whistleblowers may be entitled to a portion of money recovered if the case is successfully prosecuted.

Despite being able to file many different whistleblower claims under seal and robust state and federal protections for employees who step forward with information of fraud, individuals may sometimes face retaliation from their employers. In these situations, the employee has the legal remedy to recover compensation for the damages suffered.

Whistleblower retaliation lawsuits

Under the federal and state laws, employers are barred from engaging in termination, discrimination, harassment, demotion, suspension, or threats against employees reporting fraud, waste, or abuse of federal or state programs. To successfully prove an employee was retaliated against, the whistleblower needs to prove:

  • They engaged in a protected act under the False Claims Act or other whistleblower programs
  • The employer had knowledge of the employee’s participation in a protected act
  • The discrimination was motivated by the employer’s knowledge of the employee’s protected actions

To satisfy the first element, the employee must demonstrate that they filed a whistleblower claim or that they were working towards this endeavor. This can include gathering information to turn over to whistleblower attorneys or investigators.

Proving the second and third elements can be a little more complicated. The employer must have knowledge the employee was working on or towards the filing of a whistleblower action, and that this motivated the discrimination.

An experienced whistleblower retaliation attorney can help plaintiffs demonstrate to courts the employer knew the employee’s participation in the protected action led or could lead to uncovering violations of anti-fraud statutes. The plaintiff must then demonstrate to the court a causal relationship between the employer’s knowledge of the employee’s motivations and the subsequent harm suffered by the whistleblower.

Chicago employment discrimination lawyers

If you believe you were discriminated against at your place of business because of your work in uncovering fraud, waste, or abuse of state or federal programs, contact or call 312.332.6733 our office for a consultation. Our Chicago employment discrimination lawyers can help you with job reinstatement, recouping compensation for lost wages, and recovering special damages for the harm you suffered. With over 25 years of employment law experience, Goldman & Ehrlich serves clients throughout Chicago, Illinois, and Southwestern Michigan.

Avoiding Wrongful Termination Claims

What is wrongful termination?

The first thing we should address is what wrongful termination is and what it isn’t. Many people, employees and employers alike have a misconception of what constitutes wrongful termination. Absent a union agreement or other contract specifying the terms of employment most employment relationships are “at will” agreements. This means that either party may decide that you are no longer a good fit for the job and decide that you should seek employment elsewhere. This also means that if an employer decides that they don’t like your fashion sense, they could decide to fire you. It isn’t fair but just because a termination isn’t fair, doesn’t mean it is a wrongful termination.

Wrongful termination is being let go because of reasons that are protected by federal law: You can’t legally be let go because of your sex, age, race, or religion, or because you complained about sexual harassment. Additionally, some states protect sexual orientation status, whistleblower status, and certain forms of speech in the workplace.

Preventing a lawsuit

As the employer, you should try to do all you can to prevent these types of lawsuits from taking place.

A few ways to do that is:

  1. Documentation: Implementing a paper trail for each employee will be a valuable asset if you ever need to fire an employee. Obviously, most people don’t let employees go for their choice of work tie so if you have an issue with an employee, it is always best to document it. Evaluations, disciplinary actions taken, warnings, etc.
  2. Policies and Procedures: Create very clear and concise workplace policies for your employees that are enforceable. These should include policies on discipline, termination, and standards of conduct. Having an employee handbook that is updated and legally enforceable is a huge asset.

Wrongful Termination lawsuits

If you’ve found yourself the defendant in a wrongful termination suit, you should contact an attorney immediately. If you are involved in an administrative law matter in Chicago, our lawyers are here to protect your rights and interests. Contact us by telephone at 312.332.6733 today or contact our office online to arrange a consultation with an experienced administrative law attorney.