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FMLA and employee family members

Many Texas companies are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act. FMLA allows leave from work not only for an employee’s own health reasons, but also when an employee has a relative with a serious health condition. Intricacies in this aspect of the law can cause confusion for employers and potentially leave them open to charges of discrimination.

A family member as it pertains to FMLA means a spouse, parent, son or daughter. When an employee requests leave to take care of an ill relative, the employer is allowed to request documentation to prove the relationship, but it may not dictate the type of documentation. The employee can choose to submit a simple statement, a birth certificate, or other type of evidence of his or her relationship to the relative.

The law also gives employees the right to have the documentation they provide returned to them. The employer’s request for documentation must also not interfere with the employee’s exercising the right to FMLA leave. Generally speaking, each situation regarding a family member’s illness requires a reasonable request for documentation if the employer chooses to make one.

The Family and Medical Leave Act is one of many federal laws that protect employees from unfair treatment, but employers have legal rights as well. Sometimes employers are targeted unfairly in lawsuits, often by employees who might not understand the laws. When an employer is sued for FMLA discrimination, it does have the right to dispute the charges and mount a legal defense. Companies that are in this type of a situation might want to have the help of an employment law attorney throughout the process.

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