How Your Employment Rights combine with Workers’ Compensation: The Family Medical Leave Act

Aug 22, 2014 | WC & Other Laws

When people are injured on the job, there are a number of employment law issues that can come into the picture.  As we have written earlier, the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Law is a State law that only covers certain losses caused by a work injury – but not all of them.  There are other laws that may also cover the situation in which injured and disabled workers find themselves.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a Federal Law that can apply to a work injury.  The FMLA provides that an injured worker may take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave as a result of a serious medical condition.  Although the FMLA does not require the leave to be paid – other laws – like workers’ compensation – may pay the wage loss instead.

The FMLA does not cover all employees.  First, your employer must employ fifty or more people throughout the year.  Second, the employee must have worked at least one year with the employer.  Third, the FMLA only covers “serious” medical condition, however the law is drafted broadly enough that most work injuries requiring ongoing medical care would meet that definition.

There are two typical situations where the FMLA can help a covered injured worker:

Off-work during treatment.  An injured worker cannot be terminated simply because he or she cannot do the regular job.  This means that if your employer is unwilling to accommodate your restrictions during your medical care, your job is protected for at least twelve weeks.

Modified-Duty Concerns.  Often an employer will offer modified duty to an injured worker.  Most of the times this works out well, but sometimes the work is not appropriate. Although not a solution, the FMLA gives the injured worker up to twelve-weeks to work with our office and the treating doctor to show the job is not within restrictions  – rather than facing the impossible choice of quitting or doing a job that is not within the restrictions.

The intersection between workers compensation and your employment rights is a complicated matter that varies with each case.  At Kaplan Morrell we have pursued our client’s employment rights in State and Federal Court. You need the support and experience of a Colorado workers’ compensation attorney immediately. Contact us here or call us at 303-780-7329 for your free legal consultation.