No FMLA? No Problem. Your May Still Qualify for a Medical Leave

Do you have a serious medical condition and need some time off from work, but you have been told that your employer does not have to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? Don’t despair, because there may be other types of job-protected leave that your employer must grant you to give you time off to heal, recuperate or otherwise attend to your personal medical condition. We begin by asking what type of employer you work for and what kind of medical condition you suffer from.

The FMLA is a federal law that requires certain employers to let an employee take a maximum of twelve weeks of leave from their job for a serious medical condition, and must keep their job open for them upon their return. However, the FMLA has conditions. First, the employer must have at least 50 employees with a 75 mile radius, and you must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous twelve month period. Second, your medical ailment must be certified by a medical professional to be a serious health condition, which generally rules out things like viruses that just keep you out of work for a few days.

So perhaps your employer doesn’t have enough employees or you haven’t worked enough hours to qualify for FMLA. Or, perhaps you did qualify for FMLA-protected leave, but your twelve weeks have run out. What then? There might be other ways to get job-protected leave.
Check your employer’s policies. Your employer may offer unpaid medical leave that is available even if the employer is not required to comply with the FMLA or if your FMLA leave has run out. Read your employer’s policies and speak to a human resources representative to find out if your employer offers medical leave. You may also want to find out if other employees were allowed to take medical leave and find out in what circumstances that occurred.
The Americans With Disabilities Act. If your employer has at least 15 employees, it must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under that act, if you are a qualified person with a disability, the employer, in most circumstances, must provide you with a reasonable accommodation in order for you to perform the essential functions of your job. Generally what we think of is a special chair for a person with a back injury or perhaps enhanced computer devices for a person who is blind. But a reasonable accommodation may take the form of a leave of absence from a job. Think of a person who has a disease and has been hospitalized and will be released back to work in three weeks, but their FMLA leave will be exhausted in one week. The employer may have to give them an additional two weeks in order to comply with the ADA.

All of these types of cases, involving serious health conditions and/or disabilities, are very fact specific. That means that certain facts, such as the size of your employer, the particular job that you perform, and what sort of illness/disease you have, will make a big difference in the outcome. If you think that you should be entitled to medical leave, give one of our Tennessee Employment Lawyers a call at The Higgins Firm, and let us sort it out for you.

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