For a new mother, few things are more important than taking time off from work to bond with their child. Unfortunately, not all employers offer maternity leave.
In Florida and other states, new mothers may have the right to take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave even if their employer does not offer it.
Do I have a right to take maternity leave?
While Florida does not require employers to offer paid or unpaid maternity leave, you may have the right to do so under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA applies to all Florida employers that have 50 or more employees within 75 miles of their office. You are eligible if you have been employed by your employer for at least 12 months, and you worked 1,250 or more hours during that time.
Under the FMLA, eligible employees have the right to take to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newly born or adopted child. Both men and women have this right.
What if my employer denies my maternity leave?
If your employer denies your maternity leave when you have a right to take it, fires you, or takes other adverse actions against you for going on leave, you may have the right to sue your employer. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, and punitive damages. If your employer takes the case to court and loses, you may be entitled to attorney fees.
Only an experienced employment lawyer can advise you if you have a right to take leave, whether it was wrongfully denied by your employer, and what legal options are available to you.