Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for various family and individual medical situations. These medical situations include pregnancy and care for a newborn, placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, and the employee’s own serious health condition. The FMLA entitles the employee to job-protected leave, or to work on a less stressful, intermittent schedule, depending on the circumstances.

Do you or a family member have a medical situation, such as pregnancy, adoption, illness, or condition, that requires leave or intermittent leave, and your employer is denying or reluctant to grant your request? Has your employer retaliated against you for taking FMLA leave? If you believe you or a family member are being unlawfully denied FMLA leave or are being retaliated against for requesting or taking protected leave, then you should contact us for a free consultation with one of our employment and labor attorneys at 1-877-858-6868 or

Below please find our credentials, representative cases we’ve handled for clients, and FMLA Frequently Asked Questions.


Our employment attorneys are well-versed in the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) laws. In addition to the FMLA, many states have additional leave state-specific laws for employees who need leave for family or individual medical situations. Our attorneys have experience counseling and handling lawsuits for both the FMLA and state-specific leave laws.

Premier Litigators’ attorneys are award-winning labor and employment lawyers. For example our attorneys are:

Our employment attorneys have elite credentials matched by very few other attorneys, including for example graduating near the very top of their law school class, attending prestigious law schools, and clerking for U.S. Federal Courts.

Our attorneys have substantial experience in FMLA disputes and sometimes counsel that a lawsuit is not the best option. Alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and informal negotiations, can often resolve a dispute involving medical leave laws, with the added benefit of confidentiality for the parties. When a lawsuit is filed, however, few firms have employment attorneys as qualified as ours to obtain justice for violating the FMLA and related employment laws.

To speak with one of our labor and employment attorneys, contact us at 877-858-6868 or


At Premier Litigators, our labor and employment lawyers have represented hundreds of clients with leave law issues. Our experience ranges from counseling in-house counsel and entrepreneurs on FMLA compliance issues and best practices, to litigating through trial (and winning) FMLA lawsuits. Here are just a few examples:

  • Won a four-day jury trial in federal court involving a woman who was fired when she returned from paternity leave.
  • Won a judgment in federal court involving an employee who was fired after requesting additional leave for medical conditions.
  • Obtained a very large settlement in a single-plaintiff disability case against a hospital where the employee was terminated because she missed work while receiving cancer treatment.
  • Successfully settled over fifteen lawsuits involving claims of violating the FMLA and state-specific leave laws.
  • Advised over forty companies on compliance issues and best practices in connection with the FMLA and other leave laws.

In addition to our FMLA practice, our labor and employment law lawyers handle the following types of employment matters:

Contact us today at 1-877-858-6868 or


Only covered employers are required to comply with the FMLA. The FMLA defines “covered employer” to include:

  • All public agencies, including local, State, and Federal employees, and local agencies (such as schools); and
  • All private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. This includes joint employers and successors of covered employers.

To be eligible to take leave under the FMLA, an employee generally must:

  • Work for a covered employer (see previous FAQ for definition of covered employers);
  • Have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave;
  • Work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles; and
  • Have worked for the employer for 12 months.

Covered employers must provide an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for the following reasons:

  • The birth of a child, and to bond with the newborn child;
  • The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster case, and to bond with that child;
  • To care for an immediate family member (including spouse, child or parent, but not a parent in-law) with a serious health condition;
  • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or
  • For qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is on covered active duty or call to covered active duty to status as a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces.

The FMLA also provides certain other protections for covered servicemembers.

Under the FMLA, a “serious health condition” is defined as:

  • Conditions requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility;
  • Conditions that incapacitate the employee or employee’s family member for more than three consecutive days and have ongoing medical treatment (i.e., either multiple appointments with a healthcare provider or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication);
  • Chronic conditions that cause occasional periods when the employee or employee’s family member are incapacitated and require treatment by a healthcare provider at least twice a year; and
  • Pregnancy (including pre-natal medical appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness, and medically required bed rest).

Sometimes, yes. A “serious health condition” can include mental health conditions. For example, a mental health condition would qualify as a “serious health condition” if it requires inpatient care or continuing treatment by a healthcare provider, such as an overnight stay in a treatment center or continuing treatment by a clinical psychologist.

The DOL has guidance specifically on Mental Health Conditions and the FMLA here.

It is important that those with mental health conditions that qualify as a serious health condition get the help they need while having job security. As noted by the National Institute of Heath, an estimated one in five U.S. adults (about 52.9 million people in 2020) live with a mental illness, yet only about half of those people receive help.

Is an employee required to prove that he or she or their family member has a serious health condition?

An employer may require that the need for FMLA leave for a serious health condition be supported by a certification issued by a healthcare provider. The employer must allow the employee at least 15 calendar days to obtain the medical certification.

When an employer requests certification, the certification form that is used is generally the model form provided by the Department of Labor, found here.

No. The FMLA laws explicitly prohibit an employer from, among other things, the following:

  • An employer is prohibited from interfering with, restraining, or denying the exercise of any FMLA right.
  • An employer is prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee or prospective employee for having exercised or attempted to exercise any FMLA right.
  • An employer is prohibited from firing or in any way discriminating against anyone, whether or not an employee, for complaining about any unlawful practice under the FMLA.

For example, it would be unlawful for an employer to subject an employee to discipline or make their job more difficult in response to the employee taking or requesting regular or intermit FMLA leave. See Hite v. Vermeer Mfg. Co., 446 F.3d 858 (8th Cir. 2006) 

Under the FMLA, an employee may bring a civil lawsuit against an employer for violations. If you win a FMLA lawsuit, a judge or jury are generally allowed to award the following types of damages:

  • Back pay
  • Front pay
  • Liquidated damages
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs

Punitive damages and emotional distress damages are not available under the FMLA. See DeCicco v. Mid-Atl. Healthcare, LLC, 275 F. Supp. 3d 546, 564 (E.D. Pa. 2017).  However, those damages may be available under state-specific medical leave laws.

If you want to see more FMLA FAQs, it is recommended you review the DOL’s publicly available FAQs here. The DOL also has a formal Fact Sheet to help understand your rights, found here.

To speak with an employment attorney with substantial experience in leave laws, contact us today at 1-877-858-6868 or

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