FMLA Issues

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): A Summary of the Law

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to give qualified employees up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
  • for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
  • to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

In order to be eligible for FMLA leave, employees must meet all three of the following initial conditions:

  1. They must work for an employer who employs at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius;
  2. They must have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months; and
  3. They must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the twelve months prior to requesting leave

These conditions are more complex than they appear. For example, the 12 months of employment need not be consecutive. Recently, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that all prior employment with the employer must be counted toward the 12-month employment requirement, even where there have been intervals of several years between different periods of employment.

In addition, regardless of whether an injured employee qualifies for FMLA leave, he or she may have rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and various state/local anti-discrimination laws. Frequently, employers and employees mistakenly overlook the fact that an employee who may not qualify for FMLA leave, or who have exhausted the 12 months, may be entitled to additional leave under the ADA. In these situations, failure to accommodate the employee may constitute disability discrimination.

Marc A. Rapaport, Esq.