What You Need to Know About Wrongful Termination Due to a Family Emergency

Employment laws can protect people whose employer wrongfully terminated them due to a family emergency. Here’s everything you need to know about wrongful termination due to a family emergency.

Employers may allow employees to leave for family or medical emergencies without negative consequences.

What constitutes a family emergency?

Employees may qualify for unpaid and job-protected leave when facing a family emergency. A family emergency is when an employee has a newborn, a newly adopted child, or when a family member is seriously ill. A family emergency can be if the employee, their parent, spouse, or child is sick and needs care. Serious health conditions qualifying as a family emergency require hospital admittance, illnesses preventing one from going to work or school, chronic illnesses, and pregnancy. Qualifying exigency may involve a covered servicemember on active duty or summons to active duty.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provided workers with up to 12 weeks of leave. The FMLA applies to all public agencies and private-sector employers with 50 or more workers. An employer provides an employee with 12 weeks of leave per year.

Related: Can I Sue My Employer for Firing Me Under False Accusations?

Which employees qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act?

To qualify for the FMLA, the employee must work for the employer for at least 12 months. Additionally, the employee must have 1,250 work hours in the year before. The employer must have locations within the United States or any of its territories.

How does an employee take leave for a family emergency?

An employee must notify their employer and provide a 30 days notice if possible. If the employer requests a doctor’s note, the employee must provide them with a doctor’s note evidencing the severe illness.

What protections does an employee have when taking leave for a family emergency?

If taking leave for a family emergency is covered under the FMLA, an employee cannot get fired, harassed, or penalized for their absence. Furthermore, the employer may not deny the request nor refuse to give the employee their job back when they return to work.

Related: Can I Sue My Employer for Not Paying Me Correctly?

What if an employer wrongfully terminates an employee?

An employee may file a wrongful termination complaint with the US Department of Labor’s Office of the Wage and Hour Division. One may make a complaint in person, in writing, or by phone call. The statute of limitations is two years and is three years if the violation was willful.

FAQs About Wrongful Termination Due to a Family Emergency?

How does leaving due to a family emergency affect health insurance?

An employee taking covered leave under the FMLA qualifies for continued health insurance they would receive while working. Any family member coverage must also continue.

Is FMLA leave always unpaid?

Employees may substitute their paid leave for FMLA leave, but some employers require unpaid leave. Paid leave taken for other purposes does not detract from FMLA leave’s time entitlement.

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