One of the very important employment laws in the U.S. is the Family and Medical Leave Act. This federal law, and its equivalents in many states and Washington, D.C., gives qualifying workers the right to certain amounts of unpaid leave from their job to attend to certain medical or family needs.
Not all workers have FMLA rights. There are eligibility requirements employees have to meet to have leave rights under this act. For one, they have to work for an employer that is covered under the act. Generally, the act covers the following employers:
- Government agencies
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Private employers with 50 or more employees
State and D.C. laws usually provide protection to employees who work for smaller employers. In addition to working for a covered employer, workers also have to meet certain additional requirements to have FMLA eligibility. Generally, a worker has to:
- Have worked for the employer 12 or more months;
- Have worked at least 1250 hours with the employer in the one-year period preceding the requested leave; and
- Work within 75 miles of at least 50 employees of the employer (federal)
It is worth noting that not being eligible for federal FMLA leave doesn’t automatically mean an employee has no leave rights. He or she may have rights to leave through other sources, such as state law.
Unfortunately, workers who are FMLA eligible may encounter problems in getting the leave to which they are entitled. They might be wrongfully denied leave by their employer. Or they might face discriminatory and retaliatory conduct from their employer for exercising their FMLA rights. When workers encounter such problems, they may want to get skilled legal advice on how they can assert their rights.