Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that was passed in 1993 that provides employees of covered employers with up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid, job-protected leave for qualified medical issues or family reasons.
In order to be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee and employer must meet certain criteria. In order to be covered by the FMLA, a private-sector employer must have employed at least 50 workers for 20 or more work weeks in the previous calendar year. Elementary or secondary schools (whether private or public) and federal, state, and local government agencies are covered by the FMLA, as well, regardless of the number of employees they have. If an employee works for an FMLA-covered employer, they still must meet certain requirements in order to receive FMLA protections—namely, they must have worked for the covered employer for at least 12 months (which do not have to be consecutive), have worked at least 1,250 hours for that employer in the 12-month period immediately preceding the requested leave, and be employed at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
If the employee meets all of these requirements, they are then eligible to take up to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons: the birth of a new child or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care; caring for a family member with a serious health condition; a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of their job; or a family member who is a member of the military on covered active duty. Examples of a serious health condition include: a condition requiring an overnight stay in a hospital; being incapacitated for more than three consecutive days and require ongoing medical treatment (either multiple appointments with a health care provider, or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication); chronic conditions that cause occasional periods when you or your family member are incapacitated and require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year; and pregnancy.
It is the employer’s responsibility to inform employees of their rights under the FMLA, and an employer’s failure to do so is a violation of the FMLA. Employers may not interfere with an employee’s attempt to utilize FMLA leave or otherwise exercise their rights under the FMLA. Interference with an employee’s FMLA rights includes: refusing to authorize FMLA leave for an eligible employee, discouraging an employee from taking FMLA leave, manipulating an employee’s schedule to avoid FMLA eligibility, or counting FMLA leave under “no-fault” attendance policies.
Similarly, employers may not retaliate against employees for taking FMLA leave. Retaliation involves using an employee’s request for or use of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions, disciplinary actions, or termination.
The employment discrimination attorneys at The Harman Firm, LLP, have extensive experience advocating for employees whose FMLA rights have been violated. If you believe that your employer has interfered with your use of FMLA leave or retaliated against you for taking FMLA leave, contact The Harman Firm, LLP.
For more information on the FMLA, please click here for the FMLA website.