Denied Benefits and FMLA

When you become an employee, you have certain rights and benefits that protect you under federal and state law. If you are a current or former employee, and you believe your rights or benefits have been compromised, you may be able to regain some or all of them.

Job misclassification

First, it is important to know whether you are truly an employee or a “contracted worker.” The easiest way to know this difference is that employees receive a W-2. If you provided your employer with a 1099 form, you are technically a contractor and not eligible to receive employee benefits including health insurance, submitting taxes on your behalf and unemployment benefits. Classifying you as a contractor could be an illegal move on the boss’s part for a variety of reasons. You may have a significant case without danger of retaliation. Learn more about Illegal Job Misclassifications.

Unemployment benefit violations

Washington is an “at will” state, which means that without a contract, your employer can fire you for any legal reason or for no reason. You may also quit for any or no reason, but it may exempt you from any important benefits.

What is the difference?

There is a difference between being laid off or fired. This can impact whether you are eligible for unemployment benefits. If you were fired—unless it was deemed to be not your fault—you will likely not be awarded unemployment benefits.

  • Laid off: your position is eliminated; there’s no work available; the season is ending for seasonal employees; or your employer has permanently or temporarily shut down
  • Fired: if you were fired or suspended for misconduct or gross misconduct

For a number of reasons including retaliation, some employers misrepresent former employees while processing company and Labor & Industries documentation. When employers tend to misstate the law, there are often other violations which could lead to claims you may not event be aware of.

If you believe that you have been unknowingly or wrongly misrepresented regarding your termination, causing a withholding of benefits, please talk to us.

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Health benefit and FMLA violations

Sick leave

By Washington’s paid sick leave law, passed in 2016, you are entitled to earn at least 1 day per 40 hours worked after you have worked for your employer 90 calendar days.

You may use this benefit for yourself and/or to care for your spouse or domestic partner, child, parents or parents-in-law, or grandparents. Additionally, Washington’s Family Leave Act (FLA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), provide additional protections for employees within companies that are required to offer FMLA. FMLA guarantees certain employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave with no threat to job loss. If you are unsure as to whether your employer is subject to FMLA or the FLA, talk to your boss or human resources professional.

Common FMLA violations:

  • Denying coverage to eligible employees
  • Failing to meet notification requirements
  • Asking employees on leave to perform work
  • Reinstating an employee to a lesser position
  • Counting FMLA leave against excessive absences
  • Terminating an employee unable to return to work

The nuances of sick leave benefits and the requirements of FMLA, FLA and other laws are complex. We’re here to help.

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