Is a Worker Considered Unemployed While on FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take off up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical-related leave a year. The employee’s job is protected while on FMLA.

In a recent case, an employee’s employment status came into question while taking FMLA.

In 2011, A Wichita County employee took a three-month leave under FMLA.

While the employee was on FMLA, she applied for unemployment benefits. Her claim was initially denied by the county, which found that she was not eligible for unemployment benefits because she maintained employment during her FMLA leave.

However, the case proceeded to the Texas Workforce Commission, which determined that she was, in fact, considered unemployed while on FMLA. Therefore, she would be considered eligible for unemployment benefits.

Over the course of the next six years, the case was appealed on administrative and judicial levels. Ultimately, the Texas Supreme Court found that an employee who is on FMLA can be considered unemployed, because that employee is not performing services for pay during that time.

The Supreme Court did not decide whether the employee should receive unemployment benefits – only that the employee was considered unemployed while on FMLA.

This is just one example of a complex issue that can arise in an FMLA case.

Employment Issues Surrounding FMLA

Unfortunately, some employers may retaliate against employees for taking FMLA leave, even though it is illegal to do so.

Sometimes, an employee will not have a job to come back to after taking FMLA. Other times, the employer may assign undesirable job duties to or demote the employee.

It is important for employees to understand their legal rights.

If you have been punished by your employer for taking leave, or if you have other questions or concerns about FMLA leave, you have legal options.