Archive for the ‘FMLA’ Category

Under Federal law, a woman can not be discriminated against or terminated based upon her being pregnant. Typically, there are also state laws, such as in Florida the Florida Civil Rights Act, that mirror the Federal laws. However, agricultural giant Olam International has not been following the law which has resulted in them being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

A woman named Jennifer Heintz claims she was offered a job as an executive assistant to two presidents with Olam. She took the job, but three days later, she was told the company was holding off on filling the position. Four days after that, Olam hired another person to fill the position. Heitz contends that the job offer to her was withdrawn based upon her being pregnant. Apparently, the EEOC agreed since the EEOC, in most cases, does not bring suit on behalf of an empoyee.

A lawyer for the EEOC stated, about pregnancy discrimination:

“It remains a serious problem — women not getting jobs, women being forced out of jobs, essentially being fired, and in this case, hired and fired immediately after they learned of the pregnancy.”

And the problem seems to be getting worse. In the five years from 1997 to 2001, the EEOC received 20809 pregnancy discrimination complaints. In the last five years, they received 29088, a 40% increase.

The EEOC further stated, “There is an added stigma because you become pregnant, therefore in the future and after even you have your child, that you will not be a productive worker,” she said. “That’s simply not true.”

If you believe you have suffered termination or discrimination due to your pregnancy, or have been denied Family Medical Leave, feel free to contact Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.




As you may know, The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows ”eligible” employees to take off up to 12 work weeks in any 12 month period for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member, or if the employee themselves has a serious health condition.

An “eligible” employee is an employee who has been employed by the employer for a least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours. The 12 months do not need to be consecutive. You are only an “eligible” employee if your employer employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the worksite.

Apparently Verizon has not been following its FMLA policies. Verizon Communications, Inc. settled a class action lawsuit with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for up to $6,011,190.00. The suit alleged that between 2007 and 2010 Verizon denied or failed to timely approve class members’ requests for leave for their own serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to bond with a child. The suit was brought under California’s version of the FMLA, which is very similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Verizon also agreed to review and revise its leave policies and procedures, and to train all California managers, supervisors and human resource personnel on legally compliant CFMLA procedures. Verizon did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement. Like the California FMLA, the federal FMLA allows aggrieved employees to file class action lawsuits for violation of their FMLA rights.

If you believe you are being wrongfully denied FLMA leave, you should consult with an experienced FMLA lawyer. In addition, you should also be aware that there are legal remedies to you if you take FMLA or seek FMLA, and have negative actions taken against you by your employer as a result.

Behren Law Firm has handled FLMA cases and would be willing to consult with you on these matters.


As some of you may know, the FMLA or Family Medical Leave Act is leave afforded by many employers to provide up to twelve weeks of leave time in the event that you or one of your family members has a health condition. FMLA leave is available to you if your employer has at least 50 full time employees and if you have worked for the employer at least 1250 hours in the last twelve months. Typically this leave is unpaid unless combined with some type of PTO from your employer.

The FMLA also allows an eligible employee to take up to 12 weeks of leave for the birth or placement of a child, to care for a newborn or newly placed child, or to care for a child with a serious health condition. The FMLA defines a “son or daughter” as a “biological, adopted or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.”

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued an Administrative Interpretation (AI) clarifying its opinion that employees are entitled to take Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for birth, bonding or to care for the child of a domestic partner or same-sex domestic partner, as well as other children for whom an employee has responsibility for day-to-day care or financial responsibility, even though the employee has no biological or legal relationship with the child.

The AI explains that Congress intended the definition of “son or daughter” to reflect the reality that many children in the Unites States today do not live in traditional “nuclear” families with their biological father and mother. Congress further stated that the definition was intended to be construed to ensure that an employee who has day-to-day responsibility for caring for a child is entitled to leave even if the employee does not have a biological or legal relationship to the child. Accordingly, Congress included the term “in loco parentis,” which is defined as “in the place of the parent” within the definition of “son or daughter.” The key in determining whether someone is “in loco parentis” is the intention of the person to assume the status of parent toward a child.

The DOL stated that whether an employee stands “in loco parentis” to a child is a fact issue dependent on multiple factors including:

the age of the child;

the degree to which the child is dependent on the person claiming to be standing “in loco parentis”;

the amount of support, if any, provided; and

the extent to which duties commonly associated with parenthood are exercised.

Further, the FMLA regulations define “in loco parentis” as including those with day-to- day responsibilities to care for and financially support a child. The AI interprets this regulation to require either day-to-day responsibilities for care or responsibility for financial support, but states that an employee is not required to show both factors to be considered standing “in loco parentis” for a child.

Whether or not you are entitled to FMLA leave is a fact intensive question so if you are not sure you can try speaking to the U.S. Department of Labor or an employment law attorney. Make sure you receive the leave to which you are entitled.