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Denial of Medical Leave in Texas Prompts Lawsuit

A Collin County man, Edwin Lee Elmore Jr., has filed a lawsuit over denial of medical leave in Texas, reports the Southeast Texas Record.

The suit, filed in the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, alleges that Elmore was fired from his position when he had to take time off for back surgery.

The case of Edwin Lee Elmore Jr., with all due respect, while not a high-impact, high-profile one, is instructive to those workers who are confronted with denial of medical leave in Texas, because it allows them and the rest of us an opportunity to learn about the subject.

Sometimes events in life force employees to miss work for periods that last longer than the amount of sick leave or vacation time that the employee has accrued. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) recognizes this, and allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period.

The FMLA protects the employee's job during the leave period. At the end of the leave an employer must return the employee to their original job or its equivalent.

The leave must occur because of family and medical reasons listed in the law. Members of military families can also take FMLA leave for any "qualifying exigency" that comes up when a covered servicemember is on active duty in support of a contingency operation, or has received notification of such impending active duty.

In addition, eligible employees may also take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period to care for a covered member of the military who has a serious injury or illness.

Only certain employees qualify for FMLA leave. An eligible employee is a person who works for a covered employer; has worked for the employer for a minimum of 12 months before taking FMLA leave, and worked at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months; and has a job that takes place in a location where at least 50 employees work, or within 75 miles of such a location.

Once FMLA leave has ended, employers must restore the employee to their original position or an equivalent position with equivalent pay and benefits. Employers cannot base employment decisions on an employee's decision to take FMLA leave.

But as you no doubt can imagine, employers do sometimes let employees go because they asked for FMLA leave. In those cases, you are best off contacting a local employment law attorney to protect your rights under this law.

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