Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, was enacted in 1993 “to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families.” This Federal law allows an employee when specific criteria are met, to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work without risk of losing their job.

If you work for an FMLA-covered employer, you may qualify for a leave of absence if your situation involves a serious medical condition or:

  • an overnight stay in a medical care facility
  • you or a family member need ongoing medical treatment for more than three consecutive days (whether it’s one appointment with follow-up care or multiple appointments)
  • chronic conditions that incapacitate you or your family member that require medical treatment at least twice annually
  • you’re experiencing a difficult pregnancy (e.g., extra medical appointments, morning sickness, prescribed bed rest)
  • to give birth to and care for a newborn, to bond with a child being adopted or placed with you in foster care
  • you need to take military leave (this applies for certain military deployments or complications arising from your spouse’s military service, or when you need to care for a family member who has been seriously injured during military service)

In addition to meeting at least one of the criteria above, the following criteria must also be met:

  • You have earned such leave by working for your employer for at least 12 months. (This does not have to be 12 consecutive months, such as with seasonal work.)
  • You have earned such leave by working at least 1,250 hours for this employer in the 12 months before you take leave. (This may include part-time employees, as this averages around 24 hours per week.)
  • Your employer must have at least 50 employees working within 75 miles of your worksite.

If you qualify for FMLA, your employer must allow you to take up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period. Additional facts you should know, include:

  • FMLA leave may be taken intermittently, or all at once.
  • You cannot be terminated while on qualified FMLA leave.
  • Your employer will need to provide you with your same job or an equal or higher-paying job upon your return (in some circumstances where this is not possible or where you have used up all of your FMLA leave, talk to us to clarify what the employer is required by law to do).
  • Your benefits (including health insurance) must be preserved while on qualified FMLA leave (you may need to continue to make your contributions to this policy).
  • Your FMLA-covered employer cannot hold your FMLA-related leave against you when considering you for promotions or hiring, or for disciplinary actions.

As for your part, to qualify, you must also supply an opinion from your medical provider (and possibly 2nd and 3rd opinions) that such leave is required.

If you believe that your employer is violating your rights under FMLA, contact us immediately.

Additional Facts

Unpaid, but Job-Protected Leave – The leave that FMLA provides is not paid. In addition, employers can require that you use up vacation, personal or sick leave in coordination with your FMLA leave. In these cases, your pay would be adjusted according to what you have accumulated and the company policy. Be sure to follow all normal procedures for requesting leave.

Airline Crew Requirements – If you are part of an airline crew, separate qualifications exist. We can help you sort through the regulations to determine whether you are eligible for FMLA leave.

What Qualifies as a Serious Health Condition? – According to the FMLA, this means an impairment, injury, illness or mental or physical condition that involves in-inpatient care at a hospital, hospice, or residential medical facility or a condition that requires ongoing medical treatment.

FMLA “Retaliation”

If you are experiencing retaliation for taking FMLA-protected leave, we’ll help you sort through the legal implications of your situation. We can assist you in:

  • establishing that you qualified for, but were denied, FMLA leave
  • maintaining your position with the employer as required by law
  • filing a complaint
  • ensuring your employer complies with the FMLA
  • establishing that retaliation has occurred and that it is related to your FMLA leave

Additional Provisions

Tennessee’s law offers similar benefits under the Maternity Leave Law ( Making things even more complicated, some situations may limit your right to take a leave or be reinstated to your previous position when you return to work.

The FMLA attorneys at Massey & Associates can help you determine your rights under FMLA and Tennessee law. If you think your rights may have been violated or require legal counsel, contact us today.

Consult a skilled workers compensation attorney today if you believe that your rights have been violated.