Additional Protections for Families of Texas Service Members Under the Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a labor law that provides eligible employees with the right to take job-protected, unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks per year for family and medical reasons. Under the FMLA, eligible employees who take this leave will retain their group health benefits. Generally, employees are eligible if they worked for their employer for 12 months, for at least a minimum of 1,250 hours, and at a location where the organization employs at least 50 employees within 75 miles. Employees can take leave in specific situations, including during and after the birth of their newborn, after a child is placed with the employee for foster care or adoption, to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a severe medical condition, or when the employee cannot work because of a critical medical condition. Additionally, in 2008, the FMLA afforded additional benefits to military families through the Military Family Leave provision.

The “Exigency Leave” portion of the FMLA provides additional protections to qualifying employees whose spouses, parents, or children are deployed or going to be deployed to a foreign country. Similar to typical FMLA requirements, individuals who want to use this leave must work for a qualified employer and meet eligibility requirements. This leave allows the individual to take a total of 12 workweeks of leave to address issues that often arise when a family member is facing deployment. For example, the leave is designed to allow family members to arrange for daycare or attend official military ceremonies.

Additionally, Military Caregiver Leave allows qualifying spouses, parents, children, and next-of-kin to care for their military family members if they are suffering from qualifying injuries or illnesses. An employee can take this leave as long as they meet eligibility requirements and work for a qualified employer. This leave provides caregivers with the right to take a total of 26 workweeks of unpaid leave during a single 12-month period.

To request FMLA leave, an individual must follow specific procedures. Generally, employees must notify their employer when they become aware of their need to take time off. The employer must inform the employee of their eligibility to take this leave within five business days of the original request. If the employee is eligible, the employer must provide them with their rights and responsibilities, as well as any need for certifications. If the employer asks for certification, the employee must provide this documentation within 15 calendar days.

If an employee does not qualify for Military Leave, they are allowed to file a future claim. In instances in which an employee believes their employer is not complying with FMLA requirements or improperly denying them leave, the employee can file a complaint. An attorney can assist these individuals with understanding their rights and effectuating their remedies. Remedies may include payments for lost wages, benefits, and reinstatement of employment.

Has Your Texas Employer Violated Your Rights Under the FMLA?

If your employer denies you your rights under the FMLA, you should contact the dedicated and experienced Texas attorneys at Rob Wiley, P.C. The attorneys at our firm understand how daunting the FMLA process can be. We have helped countless employees assert their rights and obtain the remedies they are entitled to. Contact our office at 214-528-6500 to schedule a consultation with one of our employment attorneys.

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