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Medical Leave Laws and Employee Protections

A thorough understanding of the laws surrounding medical leave is important for both employees and employers in order to handle the complexities of medical leave and promote a supportive work environment.

Federal laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), provide a base for employee rights and protections. Additionally, individual state regulations can offer added rights that may vary. Understanding these laws helps employees and employers effectively uphold their respective rights and responsibilities and creates a workplace culture that is supportive of employees during medical situations.

Eligibility and Coverage

FMLA offers eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave annually for qualifying medical reasons. Eligibility for FMLA requires that employees work for a covered employer, have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before the leave, and work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

The ADA requires employers to accommodate employees with disabilities, including granting medical leave if necessary, regardless of the employer size. State laws could potentially offer additional leave options, making it crucial for employees and employers to understand their local regulations to fully understand their rights and responsibilities.

In California, there is the California Family Rights Act Leave (CFRA), which expands on some of the guarantees made by FMLA. California medical leave combines CFRA and FMLA.

Medical Leaves

Employees should follow their employer’s policies and procedures when requesting medical leave. Provide notice and submit required medical information in a timely manner. As for employers, they have obligations to ensure a smooth medical leave process. Some of these obligations include notifying employees of their FMLA rights, maintaining health insurance benefits during the leave, and ensuring they have job-protected medical leave. Communication and coordination between the employee and employer are key for a smooth medical leave process, reducing errors, and mitigating potential conflicts.

Additional Leave Options

Some states provide Paid Family Leave (PFL) and Paid Sick Leave (PSL) programs, which may offer partial wage compensation or paid time off for employees who require leave for medical reasons. PFL typically applies to events like childbirth, adoption, child fostering, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or addressing a family member’s military deployment. PSL covers personal or family member illnesses, medical appointments, and preventive care.

Legal Protections

Federal and state laws protect employees on medical leave from retaliation and discrimination. Employers can’t stop employees from using their FMLA rights, nor can they discriminate against an employee for taking a leave. The ADA and some states have comparable protections in place. If some form of retaliation or discrimination is suspected, employees should seek advice from legal counsel to understand the situation from the legal perspective as well as the legal options that are available.

Medical Leave Disputes

Employees have legal options to protect them when dealing with medical leave disputes. These could be in the form of filing a complaint to federal or state government agencies, such as the Department of Labor for FMLA-related disputes or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for ADA-related concerns. Employees also can choose to utilize:

  • Mediation: Both sides meet with the mediator and attempt to find an agreeable solution
  • Arbitration: Similar to mediation, but involves an arbitrator who will make a binding or nonbinding verdict to the arbitration, similar to the verdict of a trial but coming from an arbiter
  • Litigation: Meeting in court with a judge and jury of peers to determine fault and potential damages

Medical leave laws are vital for both employees and employers. It’s important for employees and employers to understand the laws that protect them and the options they have available to them.

Speak to a Medical Leave Lawyer

Fenton Jurkowitz Law Group understands what kind of issues can arise by taking a medical leave from work. Whether you’re determining your eligibility for family medical leave, understanding your medical leave job protection, being fired while on medical leave, or something else, we can help guide you through the appropriate legal processes.

If you are looking for a medical leave lawyer in Los Angeles or need legal guidance on a medical leave situation, fill out our online contact form.