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You need a leave of absence from work.  Are you entitled to one?  Maybe.  If you need a leave of absence due to your own medical condition, to care for an immediate family member who has a medical condition, to bond with a newborn baby, or to care for military service member with a service-related medical condition, the Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) may entitle you to a protected leave of absence from work.  Generally, the FMLA allows up to 12 weeks worth of protected leave in a designated 12 month period.  A longer period of leave is available when a service member’s medical condition is involved.  Employers are prohibited from interfering with an employee’s right to leave, and are likewise prohibited from retaliating against an employee who seeks or takes an FMLA leave.

For the FMLA to apply:  [1] you must be employed with the employer for at least 12 months leading up to the beginning of the leave (which does not have to be a single, continuous 12 month period of employment); [2] the employer must have 50 or more employees at your work location, or within a 75 mile radius of your work location for a certain period of time; [3] if the leave is for a medical condition, the condition must satisfy one or more of the Department of Labor definitions of a “serious health condition” (which, in reality, need not be particularly “serious”); and [4] you must give timely and sufficient notice to the employer that you need a leave of absence under the FMLA.  Thereafter, you must timely and adequately comply with the employer’s requests for information and documentation supporting the need for leave.  There are a lot of detailed requirements involved in seeking FMLA leave, which cannot be fully outlined here.  Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions.

You may also qualify for a leave of absence under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (covering Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee) has ruled that a leave of absence can in some circumstances be considered a type of “reasonable accommodation” for a disability that an employer must permit, apart from any requirements of the FMLA.  Other federal appeals courts have agreed.  On the other hand, yet other federal appeals courts have held the opposite, and ruled that the ADA does not provide employees with the right to a leave of absence.  With this split among the federal appeals courts, we anticipate that the Supreme Court will decide the issue once and for all.  In the meantime, those who work within the Sixth Circuit can sometimes utilize the ADA to obtain a legally-protected leave of absence from work as a reasonable accommodation for a disability.  Like the FMLA, there are a lot of detailed requirements involved in seeking a leave of absence under the ADA, which cannot be fully outlined here.  Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions.

We hope you found this update to be helpful!