When Do You Need an FMLA Attorney?

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The Family and Medical Leave Act(FMLA) is a federal law that provides job-protected leave to eligible employees for personal medical reasons or to care for a family member. The FMLA allows eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period. During that time, your employer must protect your job and access to your group health benefits while you are on leave. The main purpose of the act is to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons.

Not all people are eligible for the FMLA. To be eligible, you must work for a covered organization. The FMLA covers:

  • Private organizations with at least 50 employees
  • All government agencies and public and private elementary and secondary schools

To be a covered employee, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You’ve worked for your employer for at least 12 months.
  • You’ve worked at least 1,250 hours for your employer in the last 12 months.
  • Your employer has 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite.

The Role of an FMLA Attorney

Here are some of the ways an FMLA lawyer can help you:

Interpreting employees’ rights under the FMLA

An FMLA attorney understands the intricacies of the law and can explain how it applies to specific situations. In particular, they can interpret an employee’s rights and what they are entitled to under the FMLA. 

Providing legal advice

An FMLA attorney offers guidance on how to navigate FMLA requests and disputes. They can help an employee submit a request for FMLA leave or respond to any possible employer retaliation against an employee who requests FMLA leave. 

Representing clients in FMLA disputes

Employers who ignore the FMLA violate the rights of their employees and violate the law. FMLA attorneys represent clients in disputes related to the FMLA, which may involve wrongful termination, discrimination, or harassment claims. They build strong cases to defend or fight for their clients’ rights. 

Ensuring compliance with the FMLA

FMLA attorneys can also help businesses to ensure that they comply with FMLA regulations. They may help develop FMLA policies, review existing ones, and advise on how to avoid violations. 

Negotiating FMLA settlements

Employees who suffer FMLA-related employment issues may lose their job, benefits, or suffer financial strain. If a dispute occurs, an FMLA attorney can negotiate settlements on behalf of their clients. They work to achieve the best possible outcome, which can include compensation or reinstatement. 

When Do You Need an FMLA Attorney?

Not all employees who need FMLA leave need an attorney. But if your employer violated your employment rights, you may want to consult an attorney. For instance, if you face retaliation from your employer for using or trying to use FMLA leave, an FMLA attorney can help. And if you’re unsure about your rights under the FMLA, consulting an FMLA attorney can help clarify them. 

How to Choose the Right FMLA Attorney

When choosing an FMLA attorney, it’s essential to do the following to pick the best fit and to ensure a favorable outcome in your case: 

Understand the role of an FMLA attorney

An FMLA attorney specializes in the Family and Medical Leave Act. They ensure employees’ rights are protected when they need to take unpaid leave for medical reasons or to care for a family member.

Identify when you need an FMLA attorney

You should consult an attorney if your employer denies or delays your FMLA leave request, requires that you work while on leave, or disciplines or retaliates against you for taking FMLA leave.

Check the attorney's experience and specialization

Look for an attorney who specializes in FMLA or employment law. This expertise ensures they are well versed in the nuances of FMLA cases. Check their years of experience; more experience often means they have dealt with a variety of FMLA issues and have a track record of resolving them successfully.

Evaluate the attorney's reputation

A lawyer’s reputation is an important indicator of their ability to effectively represent you in an FMLA matter. We recommend that you review client testimonials and any possible disciplinary actions or complaints filed against the attorney before you decide to hire them. 

Assess the attorney's communication and availability

Effective communication between the client and attorney is essential to any FMLA claim. You should select an attorney who maintains open lines of communication during all stages of your case.

Consider the attorney’s fees

Before you hire an attorney, you should understand the lawyer’s fee structure. Attorneys may charge an hourly fee, a flat fee, or a contingent fee. Ask for an estimate of total costs, including any out-of-pocket expenses. This helps you budget for legal help and avoid any surprise costs.


An FMLA attorney can help employees file a lawsuit against an employer who violated their rights under the FMLA. Consulting an attorney can help you determine if the employer violated the law, if there are grounds to file a lawsuit, and what damages you may be entitled to.

If an employee files suit against their employer and is successful, they may be eligible to recover damages. The employee may be reinstated if they lost their job or position. They may also receive monetary damages including back pay and actual monetary losses.

You do not necessarily need an attorney to request FMLA-covered leave. But it may be time to consult an attorney if you qualify for FMLA leave and you were denied leave or retaliated against for exercising your rights.

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