The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with at least 50 employees to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees for:
- their own or an immediate family members’ serious medical condition;
- to care for a newborn or newly adopted child;
- for any “qualifying exigency” arising from the foreign deployment of the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent with the Armed Forces;
- to care for a closely related service member with a serious injury or illness
To be entitled to leave under the FMLA, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least a year and must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours over the 12 months preceding the request for leave.
If your employer denied your request for FMLA leave, refused to reinstate you after your leave, interfered with your leave request, or has taken some negative action against you in retaliation for requesting leave, they may be in violation of FMLA. The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides that if an employer violates the FMLA, the employee may be entitled to “liquidated damages” or compensatory damages.
Liquidated damages are in essence a penalty above and beyond actual damages. They are calculated as an amount equal to wages, salary, employment benefits or other compensation denied or lost to such employee by reason of the violation plus interest on the amount calculated at the prevailing rate. The liquidation formula can essentially double the amount of the damages awarded to the plaintiff and a successful claim often results in liquidated damages being awarded as a rule rather than an exception.
Liquidated damages will likely be awarded unless the employer sustains its burden of proof that its failure to obey the statute was both in good faith and predicated upon such reasonable grounds that it would be unfair to impose upon it more than a compensatory verdict. To avoid liquidate damages an employer must demonstrate both that the action or omission was in good faith and that the employer had objectively reasonable grounds to believe that the act or omission did not violate the FMLA. An employer’s ignorance of their FMLA responsibilities fails to establish relief from liquidated damages.
FMLA Retaliation Compensatory Damages Attorneys
If you have been unfairly denied FMLA or suffered a negative employment action as a result of taking FMLA, contact the Davenport Iowa employment law offices of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for assistance today.