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Employment Attorney in Miami, FL
Family & Medical Leave Act and ERISA Rights
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993 to create protections
for employees who need to take leave from their employment when family
or health-related problems arise—without fear of losing their job.
Under the FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to take up to twelve (12)
weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for reasons including, but
not necessarily limited to the following:
- The birth of a child, or the placement of a son or daughter with the employee
for adoption or foster care.
- To care for a spouse, child, or parent who has from a “serious health
- For a “serious health condition” that makes the employee unable
to perform the essential functions of his or her job.
- Any qualifying emergency arising from the fact that a spouse, child, or
parent is a military member on active duty or call to covered active duty status.
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In many cases,
employees may take FMLA leave on an “intermittent,” or reduced
schedule basis, which means that the employee may take time off in separate blocks of
time—versus taking 12 consecutive weeks off—or by reducing
the hours the employee works each week.
It is unlawful under the FMLA for any employer to interfere with, restrain,
or deny any right provided to an employee by the Act. Similarly, the FMLA
also makes it unlawful for employers to terminate or otherwise discriminate
against an employee in retaliation for the employee exercising, or attempting
to exercise, his or her rights under the FMLA.
If you applied for or were denied time off for a family-related or medical
leave absence, or you believe you were subjected to retaliation because
you exercised your FMLA rights, we can help! Call (888) 315-8771 to schedule your
free case evaluation.
What is ERISA and COBRA?
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is a federal law passed
in 1974 that was designed to regulate the distribution of private health
care and pension plans as a means of protecting employees against employer
ERISA requires the full disclosure of plan features and funding, financial accountability from plan managers, and a grievance
process for appealing decisions which you disagree with. Additionally,
under any ERISA covered plan,
you are entitled to a “Summary Plan Description” that outlines the provision of the plan.
Significantly, the COBRA—the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation
Act--health benefit provisions amended ERISA and require that group health
plans provide a temporary continuation of group health coverage that otherwise
might be terminated. More specifically, COBRA requires continuation coverage
to be offered to covered employees, their spouses, and dependent children
when group health care will be lost due to certain “qualifying events,”
most commonly the termination of an individual’s employment.
If you are entitled to elect COBRA coverage, you must be given an election
period of at least 60 days, which period is measured starting on the later
of either the date you are given the election notice or the date you would
lose coverage, in order to choose whether or not to elect continuation
coverage. An employer that is subject to COBRA’s requirements is
required to notify its group health plan administrator within 30 days
after an employee’s employment is terminated, or employment hours
are reduced. Within 14 days of that notification, the plan administrator
is required to send out the election notice to the individual of his or
her COBRA rights. Significantly, Plan Administrators who fail to provide
the Notice mandated by COBRA face liability to an employee (or the beneficiary,
if different) for
monetary damages of $100.00 per day from the date that the Notice was required to have been issued, plus attorneys’
fees and costs.
Together, the FMLA and ERISA provide important workplace protections for
most U.S. employees, but their existence alone does not guarantee compliance.
As a result, if you believe your employer failed to comply with federal
law, speak to a Miami
employment law attorney to learn more about your rights.
For answers regarding FMLA, ERISA, or COBRA questions,
contact the Law Office of Keith M. Stern, P.A. for a free case evaluation in Miami.