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General Overview of the Family and Medical Leave Act

Nitin Sud, Board Certified Labor and Employment Attorney

Nitin Sud, Board Certified Labor and Employment Attorney

The FMLA is a federal law enacted in 1993 that requires certain employers to provide unpaid leave to qualified employees for certain medical and family reasons. Qualified employees may receive up to 12 weeks of protected leave over a 12-month period for the following:
• the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
• the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
• to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
• a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;

The phrase “serious health condition” means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:
• any period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility;
• a period of incapacity requiring absence of more than three calendar days from work that involves continuing treatment by (or under the supervision of) a health care provider;
• any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, or for prenatal care;
• any period of incapacity (or treatment therefore) due to a chronic serious health condition (e.g., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.);
• a period of incapacity that is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective (e.g., Alzheimer’s, stroke, terminal diseases, etc.);
• any absences to receive multiple treatments (including any period of recovery therefrom) by, or on referral by, a health care provider for a condition that likely would result in incapacity of more than three consecutive days if left untreated (e.g., chemotherapy, physical therapy, dialysis, etc.).

The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees. Employees who may be eligible for FMLA must meet the following three requirements: a) they must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months; b) they must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months; and c) they must work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed at the location or within 75 miles of the location.

Employers cannot interfere with employees’ rights to take FMLA leave and they cannot retaliate against employees who have exercised their rights under the FMLA. These issues form the basis of the most common FMLA lawsuits.


This article is for general information purposes and is not to be construed as specific legal advice.


Board Certified Labor and Employment Attorney Nitin Sud represents employees, executives, and small businesses in a variety of labor and employment matters, including litigation in state and federal courts. For more information, visit www.sudemploymentlaw.com

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