Texas does not have a state law granting leave of absence to employees that is comparable to the federal Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA). However, employers in Texas must follow the FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act with regard to leave issues. Texas state laws also have limited mandates that allow for equal leave to employees who need to care for an ill foster child and leave for a state employee under certain circumstances. Furthermore, under the Texas Labor Code, leave could potentially be a reasonable accommodation for certain disabilities. If you are concerned that you are being subjected to discrimination or retaliation for taking leave provided by law, the Austin employment lawyers at Wiley Walsh, P.C. may be able to help.Leave Issues Related to Employment
Texas employees who are eligible for leave and working for covered employers must be given a leave of absence for certain specified reasons. These reasons include pregnancy, personal illness, family member illness, military service, family military leave, and other reasons. To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must have worked for a covered employer for at least a year, worked for a minimum of 1,250 hours in a prior year, and work in a location that has a minimum of 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. The leave renews in 12-month periods as long as you continue to be eligible. Covered employers are those with a minimum of 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the prior or current year.
Reasons that you can take FMLA leave include giving birth and bonding with a new child, recovering from a medical condition, taking care of a family member who has a serious medical condition, dealing with certain exigencies that arise out of a close family member's military service, or caring for a family member who suffered a serious injury while on active duty in the military. If you have a family member who was hurt while serving on active military duty, you can take up to 26 weeks of leave in a 12-month period. The leave is per-injury and per-service member.
You are allowed to continue on the same health insurance while on leave at the cost that you need to pay when you are working. The leave itself is unpaid, however. Your employer may require you to use any accrued paid leave during the FMLA leave. Once your leave is over, you are supposed to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position in most cases.
Texas state law provides for family and medical leave under the FMLA to a state employee who has a minimum of 12 months of state service and who has worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the prior 12-month period. As with the FMLA, the leave provided under the law is unpaid. The leave is allowed for the birth of a natural child, adoption, or foster care placement with an employee of a child under the age of three. Additionally, under Texas Government Code section 661.206, state employees who have a child who is in preschool or secondary school through grade 12 can use up to eight hours of sick leave each year to go to a parent-teacher conference at school. They do need to provide reasonable notice to take the leave.Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation
In some situations, under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Texas Labor Code, leave may be an appropriate and reasonable accommodation. Sometimes, leave as a reasonable accommodation can even extend beyond the 12 week FMLA period. However, these situations can be employee and employer specific. Therefore, an employee should contact an employment lawyer to discuss whether this option might exist for that particular employee.Protect Your Rights by Hiring an Austin Attorney
Leave issues can be challenging. Many people rely on the FMLA and other laws to ensure that they can meet their personal and familial health needs, but employers do not always abide by their legal obligations. You may be able to recover damages or obtain other relief if your rights have been violated. Wiley Walsh, P.C. has experienced employment attorneys who represent people in Austin, Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Kyle, San Marcos, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg, among other cities. Call us at (512) 271-5527 or complete our online form if you need a wrongful termination lawyer or assistance with another employment claim.