In the event you have a disability or need to take an extended leave of absence from work because of a family emergency, it’s important for you to know your rights. The federal government has laws in place securing your right to take off from work in certain circumstances without the fear of repercussion. These laws fall under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for special family and medical reasons. The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. This includes jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private areas open to the general public.
If you are denied medical or disability-related leave, you think your employer is violating the FMLA laws during your leave or the ADA laws, or if you have trouble returning to work after taking protected time off, you should consider speaking to an experienced Little Rock disability FMLA/ADA lawyer to find out how to assert your rights.
In order to recognize if your employer is breaking the law in regard to the FMLA or the ADA, it’s important to understand how these laws work, what employers are responsible for, what benefits are available as an employee, and how to go about seeking these benefits. Let’s start by examining the FMLA in more detail.
An Overview of the Family Medical Leave Act
While the FMLA provides benefits for workers who need an extended leave in the face of a family emergency, not all workers qualify because not all employers are required to provide a family or medical leave option.
According to the FMLA, an employer is required to provide an eligible employee with leave if they are a state, local, or federal government agency, or they are a private business engaged in interstate commerce with fifty or more employees who work at least 20 weeks per year. The employee count includes part-time employees, those on approved leave, and temporary employees.
If your employer meets the criteria to be legally required to provide medical and family leave, there are certain criteria you, as an employee, also have to meet. You are eligible for leave under the FMLA if you have worked for your employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours. You must also work at a worksite in the United States or a U.S. territory that employs 50 employees within 75 miles.
FMLA leave eligibility is restricted to the following circumstances:
- To receive treatment or recover from a serious health condition
- To care for a family member with a serious health condition
- To bond with a new child who enters the home by birth, adoption, or foster care
If family or medical leave is granted, employees generally have 12 weeks of unpaid leave. In the event an employee is caring for a family member who was injured in the service, the maximum leave is 26 weeks, and can be intermittent throughout the year. In Arkansas, spouses who are employed by the state are entitled to a total of 12 weeks of leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or the care of a sick parent. They are not entitled to twelve weeks each.
Upon return from family or medical leave, an employee is allowed to return to their previous position.
An Overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA exists to ensure people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The act is divided into five sections.
Employment. Title I of the ADA exists to help people with disabilities access the same employment opportunities and benefits available to those without disabilities. Employers with 15 or more employees are required to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified applicants and employees.
Public Service: State and Local Government. Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by state and local government agencies. Those agencies are required to make their programs, services, and activities accessible to individuals with disabilities. Public transportation is also covered under Title II.
Public Accommodations and Services Operate by Private Entities. Title III prohibits places of public accommodations from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. Public accommodations can include hotels, restaurants, golf courses, private schools, movie theaters, and more.
Telecommunications. Title IV requires internet and telephone companies to provide services that allow individuals with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate over the phone. Title IV also requires closed captioning of federally funded public service announcements.
Miscellaneous Provisions. Title V contains a variety of provisions relating to the ADA. It includes a list of certain conditions that are not considered disabilities, as well as information on state immunity, illegal use of drugs, and attorney’s fees.
If your employer isn’t following the ADA guidelines, they should be held accountable for their negligence. You can start the process by filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Seeking Legal Representation from a Little Rock FMLA/ADA Lawyer
There are a multitude of ways an employer may break the laws regarding your eligibility for leave and disability accommodations. You may have grounds for to file a lawsuit if your employer:
- Discourages you from taking time off
- Requires too much notice
- Requires a particular type of notice
- Miscounts the time you’ve worked
- Cuts off your insurance
- Pesters you to return to work quickly
- Delays your return to work
- Reinstates you to a different position when you return to work
- Fails to restore all your benefits
- Counts your leave against you
If you believe your employer has violated the FMLA or the ADA, it may be time to schedule a consultation with our Arkansas FMLA/ADA lawyers. Our attorneys at McMath Woods P.A. have years of experience with employment law, and are prepared to help you pursue your claim.