Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed congress in 1993. The act allows for qualified employees to have a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave for, among other reasons, medical issues, childbirth, and adoption. In the State of Texas, there is no requirement for paid sick leave or maternity / paternity leave.The United States Department of Labor is charged with administering the FMLA. The FMLA prohibits employers from denying qualified employees leave and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who have requested or taken FMLA leave.

To which employers does the FMLA apply?

The FMLA applies to work places in which there are 50 employees within 75 miles. It is possible that an employer may have some locations where the FMLA does apply and other locations where the FMLA does not apply. The FMLA applies to public companies as well as federal government employees. Employees of the state of Texas and it subdivisions may have limited coverage under the FMLA. Currently, there is no Texas equivalent to the FMLA. Absent coverage under the Americans With Disabilities Act for Taxes Labor Code, employees are only covered by the federal law.

Which employees are covered?

In order to be eligible for the FMLA benefit, and employee must:

  • have worked for the employer for the last 12 consecutive months;
  • have worked 1,250 hours for the employer within the last 12 consecutive months*; and
  • work at a location at which the company employed 75 employees within 50 miles.
*The hourly calculation can differ for employees in transportation industries (i.e. flight attendants).

When can an employee take leave?

An employee may take leave for some of the following reasons:

  • A serious health condition of the employee or an immediate relative;
  • Maternal / paternal leave; the birth or adoption of a new child;
  • Reasons related to the deployment of a family member

Intermittent leave

It is important to note that an employee does not have to use all 12 weeks at one time. An employee may use intermittent leave which can include using leave for small periods, including hours of the day.

What are the employer's obligations?

For an employee using FMLA leave, an employer is obligated to:

  • Not deny leave for a qualified employee
  • Not require the employee work while out on leave;
  • Return the employee to the same position with the same benefits; and
  • Refrain from retaliating against the employee who took leave.

Contact me, an FMLA attorney

The FMLA is a complicated law with many requirements for how an individual must give notice to employer in order to properly qualify and take FMLA leave. If you think that your employer has interfered or otherwise retaliated with your FMLA leave, contact me a Texas FMLA attorney in order to schedule a consultation.