FMLA Statute of Limitations

July 18, 2022

If you’ve been injured at work, it can be tempting to file a lawsuit right away. After all, if you don’t act quickly, you might lose your right to take legal action against your employer. However, when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim and suing for damages in the same incident, there are many considerations about whether or not you should pursue both options.

Additionally, some states have time limitations on when an employee can file a lawsuit after being hurt on the job. These statutes of limitations are called that because they set a time limit on when you can file a lawsuit against your employer. If you live in one of these states with a statute of limitations on a FMLA claim, this is essential information that could impact your legal rights. Here’s what you need to know about FMLA and your statute of limitations.

What is the FMLA?

The Family Medical Leave Act is a federal law that provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually. In order to be eligible to take leave under the FMLA, an employee must (1) work for a covered employer, (2) work 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave, (3) work at a location where 50 or more employees work at that location or within 75 miles of it, and (4) have worked for the employer for 12 months. The 12 months of employment are not required to be consecutive in order for the employee to qualify for FMLA leave.

FMLA leave can be used for the following reasons: injury or illness for self or a family member, to care for a new child, or the employee’s own serious health condition. The statute of limitations based on a FMLA claim begins to run from the last event constituting the alleged violation. 

Any of these situations will require you to provide documentation from a medical provider stating that you cannot work while you are on FMLA. You must also notify your employer of your need for FMLA leave as soon as you learn that you need time off. The FMLA also requires that once the leave is over, the employer must allow you to return to your job or a similar job with the same pay and benefits.

What it Stands For

FMLA stands for the Family and Medical Leave Act. This federal law provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for themselves or an immediate family member who is injured or sick. FMLA leave may also be taken to care for a spouse or parent who has a serious health condition.

Employee Rights Under the FMLA

Qualified workers are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave every year for their own illness or an immediate family member. This includes the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or another family member who lives in the same household as the employee. The employee must give the employer advance notice of the need for leave as soon as possible.

How Long is the Statute of Limitations?

The time limit on when a person can file an injury claim against their employer is two years for non-willful violations and three years for willful violations. If the employee believes that their employer violated the FMLA, this means that suit must be filed within two years after the last action or three years if the violation was willful.

FMLA Violations

Employers in alleged violation of the FMLA might not provide you with proper written notice of their leave policies. They also might deny you leave that you are entitled to under FMLA. If this happens, you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. If your state has a Department of Labor, they can help you file a complaint.

If not, you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. A FMLA claim is the same as one filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act. To prevail, the employer must have either known or shown a reckless disregard for whether its behavior violated the law.

There are also other situations in which the employer might be in violation in addition to FMLA. They might be in violation if they don’t allow you to take leave when you are entitled to it. You might also be entitled to leave if your health condition puts you in danger of hurting others.

If your employer prevents you from taking FMLA or retaliates against you for taking FMLA, it is possible that you might also have a disability discrimination or retaliation claim under other state or federal laws including, but not limited to, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Contact an Employee Rights Lawyer If Needed

If you think you are entitled to leave under the FMLA, and your employer has denied you that leave, you should contact an employment lawyer. An attorney can help you file a complaint against your employer. If the court finds that you have been denied your legal rights, they might award you damages.

If you believe that your employer is violating your FMLA rights, you should do a few things. First, you should keep a record of all the incidents you think amount to FMLA violations. Next, you should talk to a lawyer about what you should do next. Finally, you should file a complaint with the Department of Labor.


What is a willful FMLA violation?

If you’ve been injured and filed an FMLA claim, your employer is required to grant you the time off necessary to recover if you qualify for a FMLA leave. However, if they fail to do so, they are in violation of FMLA and your right to take the leave. If your employer willfully fails to comply with the law and shows reckless disregard, you may have a cause of action against them. This means you can legally sue them for damages.

However, if your employer was not willful in their FMLA violation, they are not liable to you. It’s important to understand that willful violation means more than just being careless. It means an employer was deliberately trying to break the law. An FMLA violation that is not willful does not entitle the employee to damages.

What is the longest you can take FMLA?

If you’ve been injured and are taking FMLA, knowing how long the leave lasts is essential. The specific amount of time you can take varies from state to state. Some laws also include provisions for pregnant women or new parents. The FMLA guidelines state that you’re allowed 12 weeks of protected leave. After that, you’ll need to return to work or engage in a further interactive process with your employer to discuss other potential accommodations that can be given - including additional unpaid leave.

If you’ve been injured and seek medical leave, you are protected by FMLA only if you meet the qualifying factors. You are also entitled to the same benefits as employees taking time off for other reasons. There are situations where the 12 weeks may be extended. For example, if you’ve suffered a severe injury and it’s been determined to take longer than 12 weeks to heal, you may be granted an extension to your leave.

What is considered FMLA interference?

Once you’ve been granted FMLA leave, you are entitled to take 12-weeks of protected leave and be returned to a substantially similar position at the end of your leave.

Your employer is also not allowed to harass you or otherwise try to force you to come to work before 12 weeks. If they do, they are interfering with your right to take FMLA. Interference can take many forms. It can be as blatant as firing you for not coming to work. It can also be subtler actions such as trying to pressure you to return to work before you are ready. Interference is considered a serious violation of FMLA rights.

What happens when my 12 weeks of FMLA are exhausted?

In most cases, once you’ve exhausted your 12 weeks, you will have to return to work. However, this doesn’t mean your injury has fully healed. A serious injury may take months or even years to heal fully. After you’ve exhausted your 12 weeks, you may be able to get more leave if you’re still unable to work. However, your employer is not required to grant this leave.

They may decide that since you’ve already received the maximum amount of leave, you should be fired. If you’ve exhausted your FMLA and can still not work, you may be eligible for SSDI or SSI. These are government benefit programs that provide income to people who are disabled and unable to work.

Can you be fired while on FMLA?

While qualified employers are required to grant you FMLA  leave, they are not legally barred from firing you while on FMLA leave. You are not entitled to any additional protections because you are on a FMLA leave. If a termination or layoff was already in the works, they can pursue this while you are on FMLA.

However, it is illegal to terminate an employee because they took FMLA leave.

The best way to protect yourself while on FMLA is to keep detailed records of your injury and progress. Make sure your employer can see that you’re working with doctors and following their recommendations. If possible, work with your doctor to create a plan that will allow you to return to work as soon as possible. This will make your employer view you as an asset, not a liability.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to understand your rights and that you cannot be retaliated against because you took FMLA leave. Failure to timely file your administrative complaint and lawsuit can cause you to be time-barred from pursuing your claims against an employer who violated your rights under FMLA


Contact us

Our clients become friends, confidants, and repeat customers. Former clients are our best referral source.

Do not be a commodity, find an attorney who treats your legal issue with the care it deserves.

Centered in Pasadena and serving all of California – including, but not limited to, Fresno County (Clovis, Fresno, San Joaquin); Kern County (Arvin, Bakersfield, Delano, Mojave, Tehachapi); Los Angeles County (Alhambra, Burbank, Calabasas, Encino, Glendale, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, San Gabriel, Santa Monica, Torrance, Whittier); Mono County (June Lake, Mammoth Lakes); Riverside County (Coachella, Corona, Indian Wells, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Riverside, Temecula); San Bernardino County (Barstow, Big Bear Lake, Chino, Fontana, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Yucca Valley); San Diego County (Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Encinitas, Oceanside, San Diego); San Luis Obispo County (Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Cambria, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo); Stanislaus County (Ceres, Modesto, Oakdale, Turlock, Riverbank, Salida); Ventura County (Camarillo, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Ventura)
Mon : 8:00am - 6:00pm
Tue: 8:00am - 6:00pm
Wed: 8:00am - 6:00pm
Thurs: 8:00am - 6:00pm
Fri: 8:00am - 6:00pm
Sat & Sun: Closed
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram