Phoenix Medical & Disability Leave Lawyers
What happens when a significant life event or injury that occurs outside of work prevents you from doing your job? You typically do not have a right to workers’ compensation, but you might have the right to take medical leave provided by law and utilize disability benefits provided by your employer.
Requesting leave and disability is often a tricky process, and that is why you should speak to Shields Petitti & Zoldan, PLC, about your needs. We are the best Phoenix medical and disability leave attorneys, and we are well-known to opposing counsel and key figures in the Phoenix employment law community. If you want a firm with decades of experience that can expertly navigate your employment case, we are the ones to do the job.
What Rights Do I Have to Take Leave from Work?
If an injury or serious life circumstance interferes with your work capabilities, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Arizona Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act could obligate your employer to give you job-protected leave. The following protections and eligibility requirements apply.
The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act
Under the FMLA, employees can have up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave in a year to tend to the following:
- An immediate family member who has a serious health condition,
- The birth of a child,
- The rearing of a child within their first year of life,
- Their own serious health condition (including pregnancy),
- A qualifying exigency related to an immediate family member’s active military duty, or
- Welcoming an adoptive or foster child into their home.
If you need to take care of an immediate family member who has a serious condition and is a service member, you can have up to 26 weeks of leave.
Your leave is protected because your employer cannot fire you, demote you, or reduce your benefits while you are on leave. And when you return to work, your employer must restore you to the same or a substantially similar job.
Only employees who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months are eligible to take FMLA leave. And only employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles are subject to FMLA requirements.
Determining whether you and your employer are subject to FMLA rules is not always cut and dry. If you have a serious medical or family-related need that requires you to take time away from work, one of our Phoenix FMLA lawyers can help you find the best course of action to protect your personal and professional needs.
Filing an FMLA Complaint
If your employer refuses to respect your right to leave and job protection under the FMLA, you can submit a complaint to the U.S. Secretary of Labor, or you can file a civil lawsuit. Complaints to the secretary of labor must be filed within a reasonable time. And in many circumstances, mistreated employees have only two years to initiate legal action. However, employees have three years to take action when an employer’s FMLA violation is willful.
And not only do you have a right to file a complaint if your employer unlawfully refuses to grant you leave, but you also have the right to take legal action if your employer punishes or mistreats you for asserting your rights. Mistreatment based on your request for leave is illegal FMLA discrimination or retaliation, and it can include the following:
- Benefit reduction,
- An undesirable job assignment or transfer,
- Unwarranted disciplinary action,
- Harassment, or
- Refusal to promote.
You can prove that you were punished or harassed because of your request or complaint through direct or circumstantial evidence of your employer’s motives. Collecting evidence for your case can be challenging, but one of our skilled Phoenix FMLA attorneys can gather all relevant proof on your behalf.
Arizona’s Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act
Under Arizona law, employers must give their employees an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours that they work. If your employer has 15 or more employees, the maximum amount of sick leave to which you are entitled is 40 hours in a year. And if your employer has fewer than 15 employees, your employer is not obligated to give you more than 24 hours of paid sick leave in a year.
In general, every Arizona employer has an obligation to provide paid sick leave, regardless of workforce size. Arizona’s sick leave law can be a helpful alternative to employees who do not qualify for FMLA leave, and it has the benefit of requiring that employers pay employees when they are on sick leave. However, some medical conditions cannot be addressed in 40 hours or less.
If you have a substantial personal issue that requires you to take multiple weeks off from work, but you still need pay, you might have to get creative with different benefits provided by the law and your employer to address your needs. One of our knowledgeable medical leave lawyers at Shields Petitti & Zoldan can help you assert your rights and utilize your benefits in the best way possible.
Some employers voluntarily offer disability insurance. This type of insurance pays employees who have to stop working because of a medical condition or injury. There is short-term disability (STD) insurance, which might last for a few months to a few years, and there is long-term disability (LTD) insurance, which could cover you for a significant number of years.
Making a claim for STD or LTD insurance coverage can help you get paid during your FMLA leave so you can take time off with fewer worries. But like any insurance carrier, disability insurance providers put up a lot of barriers to receiving benefits. You might experience pushback regarding whether your disability is covered. Also, you might be denied coverage if your injury or illness is the result of intoxication or illegal activity. Speaking to one of our Phoenix disability leave lawyers before you make your claim can be crucial to protecting yourself against an unwarranted denial.
Our Phoenix Medical & Disability Leave Attorneys Can Help You
At Shields Petitti & Zoldan, our lawyers can help ensure your livelihood is protected while you address pressing personal matters. Our disability and medical leave attorneys in Phoenix have more than three decades of combined experience, and we are not afraid to fight for your rights. You can call us or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
How Does the FMLA Define a Serious Health Condition?
A serious health condition that qualifies for FMLA leave is an illness or injury that incapacitates you for more than three days and requires inpatient or continuing treatment. This can include pregnancy and mental health conditions. However, any period of incapacity (with or without treatment) due to pregnancy qualifies under the FMLA.
Do I Have to Use My FMLA Leave All at Once?
No. You can take smaller pockets of leave throughout the year for different reasons.
What Can I Do If I Am Denied Disability Insurance Benefits?
You might have a right to file a bad faith insurance claim if your employer’s disability insurance carrier unfairly denies you coverage. We can help you with this type of claim.
Our experienced employment attorneys are also able to assist you with the following cases:
- Arbitration and Mediation
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty
- Business Contract
- Business Litigation
- Constructive Discharge
- Employee Advocacy
- Employer Counseling
- Employment Litigation
- Sexual Harassment
- Small Business Consulting
- Wage and Hour Violation
- Workplace Discrimination
- Wrongful Termination