When you or a person in your family struggles with a severe injury or health condition, leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act can protect your career while you focus on healing. However, some employers may try to refuse your request for leave. May they deny your leave request?
Under what circumstances may an employer deny leave?
While the Family and Medical Leave Act applies to many employees, it does not provide universal protection. As a result, a company can refuse to grant an employee leave in some situations.
If your employer has fewer than 50 employees, FMLA requirements do not apply to them. As a result, they do not need to offer leave benefits to employees that would otherwise qualify UNLESS your state has a mini FMLA with a lower threshold. You may also be denied because you are a “key employee,” but many employers abuse this exception.
You must also meet specific eligibility requirements to receive FMLA leave. You would not be eligible if you have worked for your company for less than one year or have not worked the required 1,250 hours in the year before your leave. However, a merger or purchase of the company may not restart the clock. In addition, if your need for leave is not based on a severe health condition, you may not meet the criteria for medical leave.
What if your employer still denies FMLA leave?
If you meet the criteria for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, your employer may not legally deny your request for leave. However, some companies may still attempt to violate your rights by refusing to grant you leave, by claiming you delayed your medical paperwork, or because of work requirements.
If this occurs, you should take time to explore your legal options. You can file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor, or you may be able to file a lawsuit within two years to seek compensation. For claims under State statute, you may need to file much more quickly! You may want to speak to an experienced attorney to determine which of these options is right for your situation.