Can Men Take Parental Leave

Untitled by Szilvia Basso licensed by Unsplash.

Happy Father’s Day!

Whether it’s your first year as a father, or you’ve been enjoying fatherhood for quite a while, today we celebrate you.

It should come as no surprise that fathers play an important role in the development of their children. What may surprise you, though, is that the advantages of a father’s engagement with their infant can be quantified: even one extra day per month of interaction with a father translates to healthier babies.

However, getting the time in can be hard for working fathers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 96% of employed fathers worked full-time in 2018 regardless of the age of their children. Unfortunately, the Bureau reports that only 19% of full-time American workers have access to Paid Family Leave.

While paid paternity leave is still in its infancy, so to speak, there are unpaid, federally mandated leave options available to new fathers.

How do you use the FMLA?

Time Limits

The Family Medical Leave Act provides 12 workweeks’ worth of unpaid leave for eligible employees during a 12-month period. It expressly provides that those 12 weeks can be used for the birth or placement of a child, either for adoption or foster care or for bonding with your child until one year of age or up to one year after placement. If your employer already provides a specific amount of unpaid leave days, then the FMLA supplements extra days to reach a 12-week period. Alternatively, if your employer already provides a specific amount of paid leave days, you can utilize those paid days as part of your FMLA coverage and the 12 weeks will be reduced by any paid time you take. However, the FMLA does not require your employer to provide paid leave other than what they already would give.

Be aware that the FMLA also has a provision that prevents double utilization from spouses that work for the same employer. If you and your spouse both work for a certain company, your company may permissibly limit your total number of workweeks to 12 instead of 24.

Eligibility Requirements

You must meet some minimum requirements to be eligible for FMLA. First, you must have worked for your current employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours during the preceding 12-month period before your request for FMLA. For example, if you’ve worked at XYZ Company for 5 years and you now want to request FMLA, you need to have worked 1,250 hours during your most recent annual period to be eligible.

Your company must also employ at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. So, if your employer only has one site that employs 30 individuals, you will not be covered. However, if there is a second site 15 miles away that has another 30 individuals then you will be covered.

Notice Requirements

If you’re planning on having a child, either by birth, adoption, or foster care, it is imperative that you give your employer no less than 30 days’ notice before the date of leave is to begin.  

Returning from FMLA

When you return from FMLA, it is mandated that your employer restore you to either the position you held when your leave began, or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other relevant conditions. There are exemptions to this rule for highly paid employees within the top 10% of their company’s salary range.

What if something goes wrong with my FMLA leave?

Unfortunately, employers don’t always get it right when it comes to the FMLA and they engage in some illegal act constituting interference or retaliation. Sometimes, their error is they interfere with your ability to use FMLA. Employers cannot restrain or deny an eligible employee’s ability either to take leave under the FMLA or to be reinstated to their position upon their return. They even can be liable even if they don’t intend to interfere, as pointed out by the Northern District of Georgia in Gutter v. GuideOne Mut. Ins. Co. in 2014.

An employer can also violate the FMLA if they retaliate against an employee who has taken FMLA leave or who has complained about FMLA violations. Retaliation does require intentional discrimination. An employer who terminates or disciplines an employee for using FMLA-provided rights is liable to the employee if the employee can show a discriminatory motive.

If either of these instances sound familiar to you, please reach out to the attorneys at Legare, Attwood & Wolfe 470-823-4000 whose practice is dedicated to helping workers like you.

Cheryl Legare Wraps Up Year as President of the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers

 

Outgoing GAWL president Cheryl Legare welcomes GAWL’s new president, Christina Baugh and president-elect Veronica Higgs Cope on board.

 

 

 

On May 9, 2019 Legare, Attwood & Wolfe partner Cheryl Legare completed her year serving as the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers as the organization’s president and welcomed Christina Baugh as GAWL’s 2019 – 2020 president and Veronica Higgs Cope as president-elect.

Cheryl has been an active member of GAWL since graduating law school in 2002.  In addition to her recent functions as GAWL president, Cheryl served on its Foundation Council and was the Foundation President from 2007 – 2008.  Over her years as a GAWL member, Cheryl has held Co-Chair positions on the Mentoring Initiative (2008-2009), the Scholarship Committee (2009-2010), and the Solo/Small Firm Affinity Group (2013 – present).  She was VP of Programs from 2006-2011, the VP of Public Affairs (2014-2015) and VP of Mentoring (2015-2016).

 

 

 

Super Lawyers 2019

Cheryl Legare, Eleanor Attwood & Steve Wolfe have once again been selected to the 2019 Georgia Super Lawyers list. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this distinction.  Cheryl Legare and Eleanor Attwood were also honored with inclusion in the Top 50: 2019 Women Georgia Super Lawyers list.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multi-phase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, visit SuperLawyers.com.

LAW Co-Sponsors Multi-City Continuing Legal Education Series

Beginning January 25, 2019 in Macon, Georgia, Legare, Attwood & Wolfe, along with the State Bar of Georgia and Veritext Legal Solutions will host a CLE to help fellow attorneys identify possible employment claims.  The program kicks off at the Sports Hall of Fame in Macon, Georgia on January 25th and will feature local attorneys Charlie Cox, Douglas Dean (of Lawson, Reid & Dean) and Mary Katz (of Chambless Higdon Richardson Katz & Griggs) along with the Honorable Marc T. Treadwell of the United State District Court, Middle District of Georgia.

Legare, Attwood & Wolfe and local practitioners will bring this series to Savannah, Columbus and Augusta in February and March.  For more information or to register:  State Bar of Georgia CLE Programs

 

The City of Atlanta Struggles

The City of Atlanta allegedly ignored the advice of its own legal team when managing allegations of sexual harassment. Eleanor Attwood’s client remains employed by the city, as does her alleged harasser.

Watch the video

Court of Appeals Issues Important Ruling in Favor of Employees in Overtime Lawsuits

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is the federal law that requires employers to pay overtime wages to many employees when they work more than 40 hours per week. The FLSA is a powerful tool for protecting employee rights because it allows all the employees of a company who have similar overtime claims to join their cases together in a single lawsuit. This lets the employees pool their resources and evidence together and present a stronger case. The FLSA permits employees to join an ongoing FLSA case simply by filing a written consent to join form with the Court.

Sometimes, a court will certify an overtime lawsuit as a collective action. That means the court will approve notices issued to employees who may have similar overtime claims so they can learn their rights and how to join the lawsuit. But, even if the case is not certified as a collective action, employees who believe they have similar overtime claims can join the case just by filing a simple consent to join form. Either way, employees with similar overtime claims do not have to file their own lawsuits – they can join together in a single case by completing and filing proper notification with the Court.

What does it mean for an employee to consent to join a case? Is that employee a full-fledged party to the lawsuit just like the lead employee who filed the lawsuit originally? Or does the employee who enters the case by signing a consent to join somehow have a lesser legal status?

On April 18, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal court of appeals covering Georgia, Alabama and Florida, answered the question directly for the first time. When an employee files a consent to join an ongoing overtime lawsuit, that employee becomes a full-fledged party to the case. These employees’ claims do not go into legal limbo if employers defeat an overtime lawsuit’s collective action status. Employees who joined the lawsuit can continue their cases with their claims fully intact and their rights fully protected, even if the court does not agree the case should be conditionally certified.

If you believe your employer has improperly denied you overtime wages, contact Legare Attwood & Wolfe. We would be honored to talk with you and see if we can help.

You can read the entire opinion here: http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201617484.pdf.

LAW Talk with B.J. Bernstein

On International Women’s Day, Cheryl Legare of Legare, Attwood & Wolfe addresses sexual harassment and answers listener questions on LawTalk with BJ, hosted by B.J. Bernstein.

Listen now. 

Georgia Supreme Court Issues Georgia Whistleblower Act Opinion

On March 6, 2017, the Georgia Supreme Court held that municipal employees who have claims under the Georgia Whistleblower Act do not have to provide their employer with ante litem notice prior to filing a lawsuit. The Georgia Whistleblower Act protects government employees who are retaliated against for blowing the whistle on government fraud, waste, and abuse. The Supreme Court’s decision is an important victory for municipal employees because it guarantees that they have the full time allowed by the Georgia Whistleblower Act’s statute of limitations in order to file their cases in court. Legare, Attwood & Wolfe partner Steven E. Wolfe led the Amicus Committee of the National Employment Lawyers Association’s Georgia Affiliate, which filed an amicus brief, authored by Lisa Lambert, on behalf of the employee in the West case, with A. Lee Parks of Parks, Chesin & Walbert, P.C., appearing at oral argument on the organization’s behalf. The case is West v. City of Albany, No. S16Q1881.