The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to unpaid leave with the right of reinstatement for specific family or medical reasons. Earlier this week the Department of Labor finalized new rules to increase the benefits and eligibility for military families and airline workers.
Generally, employees working for an employer with at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of the workplace can qualify for FMLA. An employee must also have worked at least 1250 hours in the previous 12 months before taking leave. However, new amendments alter the hours worked requirements for employees in the airline industry. The amendment provides that airline flight crew members or flight attendants meet the hours of service requirements, if in the past 12 months they 1) worked or have been paid for at least 60% of the total monthly guarantee, and 2) have worked or been paid for not less than 504 hours, not including personal commute time, time spent on vacation, medical or sick leave.
Generally, an employee is entitled to as much as 12 weeks of leave per year, as well as continuation of group health insurance, and mandatory restoration of their previous position or an equivalent position on return. The new rules allow military family members to take leave for an additional 15 days to care for a covered veteran with a serious illness or injury on leave from active duty. Family members caring for covered service members are eligible to take as much as 26 weeks of leave to care for the covered service member.
Violations for FMLA can be costly for employers. If an employer discriminates against an employee by harassing, demoting, or terminating an employee for taking leave they may be liable for damages including lost wages and benefits, liquidated damages up to twice as much as actual damages, and attorney’s fees and costs.
In related news The FMLA is turning 20 this month. It was first signed into law on February 5, 1993 on the principal that employees should not have to choose between their job and caring for their illness or the illness of a family member.
If your employer is giving you a hard time or has taken adverse action against you for use of FMLA leave enforce your rights. To learn more contact the experienced California Employment law attorneys of the Law Offices of Michael S. Cunningham, LLP. Schedule a free consultation by calling (951) 213-4786 today.