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Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. §§2601-2654, makes it unlawful for covered employers to terminate or otherwise discipline an eligible employee for taking up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (or 26 weeks to care for a covered servicemember with a serious illness or injury incurred in the line of duty on active duty) off from work in any 12-month period to:

(1) care for a newborn child;

(2) care for a seriously ill spouse, parent, or child;

(3) care for the employee’s own personal serious health condition;

(4) care for a covered servicemember with a serious illness or injury incurred in the line of duty on active duty; or

(5) use for “any qualifying exigency” arising out of the fact that a covered military family member is on active duty or called to active duty status in support of a contingency operation.

The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees (including part-time employees) and to employees who have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months, worked for the employer for at least 1,250 hours, and are employed at a location where the employer employs at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius.

A “serious health condition” is defined as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment under the FMLA.

Eligible employees are entitled as a matter of right to take FMLA leave. The FMLA also provides further protection to covered employees through an anti-retaliation provision. The FMLA prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who opposes violations of the Act. This means that it is unlawful for an employer to discharge or discriminate in any other manner against an individual for opposing any practice made unlawful by the FMLA.



The FMLA is a tricky area of law and a source of confusion for both employees and employers, so great care should be given in determining its applicability and ramifications. To complicate the FMLA even more, significant changes and amendments were made to the Act in 2008, which primarily provides further protection to those serving in the military and to those providing care for them.

Explore Further:

Wrongful Termination

Unpaid Overtime Claims

Unpaid Wage Claims

Family Medical Leave Act

Severance Agreements

Covenants Not to Compete

Sexual Harassment




Breach of Contract


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