Family and Medical Leave

To protect the rights of employees that must take leave from working, Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993. This law gives specific time off to employees and their family members who are having children or those who are injured and need time to recuperate. The rules and regulations of this law are outlined in the following paragraphs. However, many circumstances are unique and a consultation with a family attorney at the Coye Law Firm can help better explain if you have a case and how to pursue legal action.

If your employer has denied you time off for an injury or to raise a child, it may be a violation of the law. Hiring a family lawyer is necessary to ensure that your recovery or personal matter is fully taken care of before returning to work. A consultation with one of our attorneys can:
  • explain your rights
  • investigate if you were unfairly denied time off
  • recover wages or time you are owed
  • hold your employer accountable

Employees Covered under the FMLA

An employee may be eligible to take leave from work if:
  • they or their spouse has or will have a baby, and to care for the baby
  • they adopt a child or become a foster parent
  • they must care for a seriously ill family member (including children, spouses, and parents)
  • they are unable to function as an employee due to serious illness
The law was recently amended to protect the family members of military service members. It states that if an employee's son, daughter, parent, or spouse is a service member and the employee requires medical or family leave because of their family member's deployment, it can be granted.

The law also states that a man or a woman can take time off to raise a child. If you have been denied family leave based on gender, it may fall into the realm of discrimination. This is illegal and warrants action against an employer. The Coye Law Firm can address these issues on your behalf and recover time off that you may be entitled to. 

Employees may be required to provide proof from their own or their family member's doctor that they need to be absent for medical reasons. These notification forms are available from the Department of Labor and can be accessed by clicking the links.

Length of Leave

If you fall into one of the categories listed above, you are eligible to take off 12 weeks of work within a 12 month period. This period of leave expires in some cases; for example an employee who has had a baby can only take this leave within a year of the child's birth and spouses working for the same employer cannot take off the same time periods. Additionally, the law requires the employee to give notice of absence 30 days in advance if possible. Employees are allowed to use this time intermittently. This means they don't have to use all 12 weeks at the same time or back to back. 

The recent amendments regarding service members also lengthened the amount of time these employees may take off from work. If they must perform a medical or family duty because of a deployment, they are entitled to 26 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. 

Your employer can respond to your request using Form WH 381 , which is provided by the Department of Labor. 


An employee who takes time off of work for medical or family reasons can maintain their health insurance that is provided through their employer. However, if the employee fails to return to work, they may be required to pay back their employer for the premium cost of being covered by their insurance plan. Any documentation used in communication or payment for medical treatment should be saved in case there is a disagreement with an employer. Your claim can be strengthened by keeping this information and speaking with an attorney.


If you or a colleague witnesses unlawful behavior regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act, then a claim against the employer must be filed within two years of the action. The employer may be required to pay back the lost wages and benefits if a violation occurs. 

It is vital to speak with a family lawyer if you or your spouse have been denied time off that you are entitled to. The Coye Law Firm is committed to seeking justice for families or individuals whose rights have been violated in the workplace. Call today to see if your case qualifies.