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Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, as amended (FMLA)

What is the FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected, leave during a 12-month period. During FMLA leave, the employee's group health benefits must be maintained. With limited exceptions, after FMLA leave, the employee must be restored to his or her position or an equivalent position. In general, eligible employees are entitled to return to work and maintain their group health benefits. Employers may not retaliate against an employee for taking FMLA leave. With limited exceptions, employers must restore employees to their position or an equivalent position upon return from FMLA.

Employer Coverage: In general, the FMLA applies to employers who employ 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius during 20 or more work weeks of the current or preceding calendar year. The FMLA applies to public and private entities.

Employees Covered:
Employees must meet the following test,

  1. Employed by the employer for at least 12 months;
  2. Employed for at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12-month period before the leave; and
  3. Employed at a worksite where the employer employs 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the worksite.
Basic Leave Entitlement: Covered employers must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for any of the following reasons:
  • Incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or child birth;
  • Care for the employee's child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care;
  • Care for the employee's spouse, son or daughter, or parent, who has a serious health condition; or
  • A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee's job.

Military Family Leave Entitlements: Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.

FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period. A covered service member is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his or her duties for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; or is in outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired list.

FMLA Claims:

  • Denial or Interference Claims: It is illegal to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of FMLA leave or any right provided under FMLA;
  • FMLA Retaliation: It is illegal to fire or discriminate against a person for opposing FMLA violations or for becoming involved in a proceeding relating to the FMLA.

Enforcement: Employees may file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor or file a private lawsuit generally. While individuals with claims should not delay filing, claims must generally be brought within 2 years after the violation (3 years if the violation was willful).

Potential Remedies: Remedies will vary based upon the facts and circumstances. Potential remedies to employees who prevail on FMLA claims include wages, employment benefits, other compensation denied or lost. actual monetary loss sustained as a direct result of the violation, interest, liquidated damages (unless the employer acted in good faith), reinstatement, promotion, other equitable relief, attorney's fees, expert witness fees, and other costs of the action.

*Employees in the District of Columbia may also be protected by the DCFMLA.

If you need an experienced lawyer to handle a family or medical leave case under the DCFMLA or FMLA, feel free to contact attorney Lori Searcy at 703-644-4122 / 202-393-1443 or complete the employment case review form.

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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
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* Searcy Business Litigation & Employment Law represents clients in the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia, including Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County, the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax. The firm also serves clients in the Virginia counties of Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Madison, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Warren, as well as the cities of Fredericksburg and Winchester, Virginia and more.

All legal information provided on this website is general and should not be used or relied on as legal advice as legal advice cannot be given without full
consideration of all relevant information relating to a specific situation.

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