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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Essay on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) - Rights under the FMLA


            The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that took effect on 1993.  It protects the right of eligible employees to be entitled to leave when necessary to take care of a newly born child; when necessary to take care of a son or daughter placed with the employee for adoption or foster care; or when necessary to take care of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who is suffering from a serious health condition; or when necessary to receive treatment for a serious medical condition that prevents the employee from performing his job. 

Pursuant to the FMLA, an employee who takes his leave is protected from being terminated, demoted or punished for his leave provided that the requirements of the law is complied by the employee concerned.  It shall be unlawful under the FMLA for an employer to deny an entitled employee an FMLA leave or to discriminate against or discharge an employee for exercising his rights under the FMLA.

In the same situation below, the manager is right in denying the request to be paid for the 11 weeks of withheld salary.  The following can be concluded based on the situation: 1) the employer is covered employer for having more than fifty (50) employees; 2) the employee is likewise a covered employee since he has worked for more than twelve months with the company and has applied for leave to care for his spouse.  The FMLA, however, only protects the right of the employees to be able to return to work after the leave.  It does not require employers to pay the employee while they are on leave, unless the employee has extra leave credits which he can use with pay from the company.

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 The actual case of Hanger v. Lake County highlights the importance of complying with the FMLA leave.  In this case, Susan Hanger was connected with the Lake County Board of Commissioners as head of the human resources and safety department.  She took a FMLA leave in May 1999 to give birth.  Meanwhile, her employer temporarily hired Pamela Parkinson to replace Hanger.  Subsequently, the commissioners became impressed with the performance of Parkinson that they decided to place her in charge of the human resources department.  Upon her return to work, Hanger continued to receive the same pay and benefits even though another person was already performing her job.  She eventually resigned in August 1999.  She was reinstated afterwards but resigned again and moved out of the country.  In August of 2001, more than two years after her first resignation she filed a suit for violation of FMLA.

It is apparent in this case that the employer virtually terminated the employee who was on leave under the FMLA.  While the employer is allowed to hire temporary employees to perform the functions of the employee who is on leave, the same lasts only until the return of the employee who is on leave.  Thus, the Court of Appeals ruled in this case that the employer of Hanger violated the provisions of the FMLA when they virtually demoted her upon her return.  The law protects the right of the employees to take their leave when necessary to care for a newly born child.  Such was the situation in the case of Susan Hanger who needed to take care of her child.  Thus the employer violated the FMLA when then replaced Susan Hanger despite the fact that she has returned to work upon the end of her leave. 

However, the Court of Appeals also declared that the protection given under the FMLA is subject to certain limitations.  One of which is that the rights under the FMLA must be exercised with the time limit.  

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