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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) places a number of requirements on employers. Not knowing your obligations as an employer or understanding when the act applies can result in significant legal problems. The FMLA requires covered employers to provide qualifying employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within any 12-month period for a serious health condition, to care for a family member following the birth of a child, or to care for a spouse, parent or child with a serious health condition.

While that description seems straightforward, the FMLA has numerous qualifications that affect whether an employee is entitled to leave benefits under the act. Not all employees qualify for protection and not all employers are covered by the statute.

Qualifying Employee

Qualifying employees are those who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months prior to taking leave. The employee must also work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees working within 75 miles of the location.

Covered Employers

The FMLA only applies to the following organizations:

  1. Private companies employing 50 or more employees for 20 or more workweeks during the current or prior calendar year.
  2. Federal, state and local agencies, regardless of the number of employees.
  3. Public or private elementary schools, regardless of the number of employees.

Employers should seek legal advice regarding their employee’s leave rights before denying leave requests; the employee may have rights under another federal or state statute.

What Is a Serious Health Condition?

Generally, a condition will qualify as a serious health condition under the act if it is an injury, illness, impairment or condition that requires inpatient care or causes incapacity for three or more consecutive days. Not all medical conditions qualify as a serious health condition under the FMLA. Whether the condition qualifies will depend on the facts of the situation and to what degree it prevents the employee from engaging in normal daily activities.

Employer Interference & Retaliation Prohibited

The FMLA prohibits employers from interfering with an employee’s right to FMLA leave or by retaliating against an employee for taking leave. Interference, includes termination, disciplinary action, and other adverse actions.

Our lawyers understand the provisions at play in FMLA cases. Our passionate advocates are proud to be available to represent clients in these important cases in courts in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and throughout the country.