What is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal employment law that requires employers to provide individual employees as many as 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave per year. If you believe your employer violated your rights under the FMLA, it takes a skilled employment law attorney to enforce your rights.

Lipsky Lowe LLP is a premier employment law firm serving clients throughout the greater New York area. Well-versed in the provisions of the FMLA, we have a proven track record of protecting the rights of our clients. When you consult us, we will take the time to understand your circumstances and explore all of your options for obtaining just compensation.

What are my rights under the Family Medical Leave Act?

The FMLA allows employees who are covered up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work within 12 months. When employees take leave under FMLA, their employers may not legally fire them. The FMLA considers the following situations as a “qualifying exigency”:

  • When an employee or an employee’s partner gives birth and need to provide newborn care
  • When an employee newly adopts a child or receives a new foster child into the home
  • The employee suffers from a severe health issue, which must render the employee unable to perform essential job functions
  • The employee needs to care for a child, parent, or spouse who has a diagnosis of a serious health condition

What Health Issues Constitute a Serious Health Condition?

A serious health condition means an injury, illness, impairment, or mental or physical condition. The condition must involve either medical care that is inpatient or continuing treatment by a health care provider. The FMLA recognizes the following conditions as serious health conditions:

  1. Inpatient Care
    Inpatient care constitutes a serious health condition under FMLA. Inpatient care means an overnight stay at a hospital, residential care facility, hospice or another medical care facility
  2. Three Days of Incapacity With Continuing Treatment
    Someone who is incapacitated for over three consecutive days and is receiving continuing medical treatment by a health care provider has a serious health condition under the FMLA. Incapacitated means the person is unable to perform typical daily activities such as going to work or school.
  3. Pregnancy Does Constitute A Serious Health Condition Under the FMLA
    Employees who are pregnant can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Pregnant employees can legally take unpaid leave even if they can still work and perform their regular daily activities. Eligible pregnant employees do not need to suffer from medical complications to use FMLA to take time off of work for routine medical appointments.
  4. Chronic Serious Medical Conditions
    Conditions that might qualify as the FMLA covers chronic conditions. Chronic serious medical conditions might include epilepsy, diabetes, and asthma. A severe chronic health condition does not necessarily need to happen to qualify continually. The condition can result in episodic incapacity and fall under the category of chronic disease.
  5. Long-term or Permanent Incapacity
    An employee who is or who will become permanently incapacitated for an extended period has a serious health condition under the FMLA. Advanced ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, and terminal cancer may be examples of this type of serious health condition.

Which Employees Does the FMLA Cover?

An employer must have 50 or more employees who work within 75 miles of the employee’s place of employment. Or, the employer must be a public agency.
The employee needs to have worked at a minimum of 1,250 hours within the last 12 months for the employer. This provision excludes some employees who are part-time and newer employees from protection under the FMLA.

Provisions for Military Families

The FMLA recognizes the unique challenges that military families face. An employer must grant an employee up to 12 workweeks of job-protected, unpaid leave. Qualified employees may use this leave to take care of issues related to military deployment. Eligible employees include the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a service member.

An employer must award leave so that the employee can address common issues related to a service member serving a foreign military deployment. For example, employers must give qualified employees leave to attend functions sponsored by the military, make legal and financial arrangements before deployment, and arrange for childcare.

The FMLA and Military Caregiver Leave

If you are a parent, spouse, child, or next of kin of a covered military service member, you may legally take up to 26 workweeks of family medical leave to care for the servicemember. The service member needs to be undergoing medical treatment, therapy, recuperation, or outpatient medical treatment for an injury that occurred or became worse during a deployment. A covered servicemember is any member of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves.

Contact Our New York City FMLA Attorney

The Lipsky Lowe LLP employment law attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the FMLA. We will use our employment law experience to fight for your rights as an employee or an employer under federal law. If your employer terminated your employment or discriminated against you for taking unpaid leave under the FMLA, please contact our law firm.

Conversely, are you are an employer who is unsure about whether you must provide unpaid leave to your employees under the FMLA? Do you employ many military spouses who may face their spouse’s military deployment? Our employment law attorneys will sit down and listen to all of the facts of your unique case. We will thoughtfully advise you of your rights under the FMLA. Contact the New York FMLA attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP to set up a free consultation.

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