A federal law called the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) establishes legal protections for employees who need extended periods of leave from work to attend to family or medical emergencies. Under the FMLA, eligible employees are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of protected unpaid leave per year for matters such as serious illnesses, adoption, or the birth of a child. New Jersey has established a similar law, known as the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA), which may also apply in such cases.
While the FMLA and NJFLA protect employees’ jobs in theory, the unfortunate reality is that employers sometimes retaliate against employees who choose to exercise their rights under these laws. In other cases, there may be disputes as to whether an employee is entitled to family or medical leave. If you, your spouse, or one of your family members is in a dispute with an employer as to job-protected leave under the FMLA or NJFLA, or if an employer has terminated you in retaliation for taking leave, the experienced FMLA attorneys at the Law Offices of Usmaan Sleemi can sit down with you to explain your rights, discuss your options, and if necessary, defend you aggressively against employers who act in a retaliatory fashion.
For a free legal consultation concerning family or medical leave under the FMLA or NJFLA, contact the Law Offices of Usmaan Sleemi at 973-866-9415. Our experienced family and medical leave lawyers serve employees across a diverse range of industries, including employees of small, mid-size, and large businesses, throughout the Northern New Jersey area.
WHAT IS THE FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA)?
The FMLA ensures that eligible employees receive a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per 12-month period. Private companies and public agencies, as well as elementary schools and secondary schools, are subject to the FMLA if they employ 50 or more employees, either on-site at the facility or within a 75-mile radius of the work site.
Employees should ideally give their employers as much notice of the leave period as possible, though the sudden nature of medical emergencies sometimes makes doing so impractical or impossible. Employers are required to provide written notice to employees that a leave period is being counted as FMLA or NJFLA leave.
There are several methods by which employers may calculate the 12-month period. Other than following the calendar year, employers may alternately determine the 12-month period based on a rolling period, the date on which the employee’s first period of leave begin, or the employee’s start date, the fiscal year, or other fixed periods.
It is important to emphasize that the FMLA and related NJFLA pertain to unpaid leave, and do not guarantee paid time off to address family or medical emergencies. However, both laws allow eligible employees to put paid leave which has accrued, such as vacation leave, toward the leave period under the NJFLA or FMLA.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR MEDICAL OR FAMILY LEAVE IN NEW JERSEY?
As previously noted, employers are not subject to FMLA or NJFLA requirements if they have fewer than 50 employees. However, even if an employer is required to comply with the FMLA and NJFLA, it does not necessarily mean that each employee will be covered in every situation. In order for an employee to be eligible for family or medical leave under these pieces of legislation, not only must the employer be covered, but in addition, the employee must meet certain criteria pertaining to:
- The reason for the leave of absence. There are several situations that may entitle an employee to unpaid leave under the FMLA or NJFLA, including:
- Inability to work due to a “serious medical condition” or “serious health condition,” defined by the United States Department of Labor as “an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition” involving inpatient care (such as overnight hospitalization), a period of incapacity lasting more than three days, incapacity related to pregnancy or prenatal care, incapacity related to a chronic health condition (such as epilepsy or diabetes), long-term incapacity related to a treatment-resistant condition (such as Alzheimer’s disease), or absences needed to receive a series of treatments (such as dialysis or chemotherapy).
- Making arrangements for a foster care or adoption placement.
- Providing care for a newborn infant.
- Providing care for an “immediate family member,” meaning the employee’s mother, father, child, or spouse, who has a serious medical or health condition as defined above.
- The number of hours worked. An employee may be eligible for medical or family leave if both of the following statements are true:
- The employee has worked for the company, school, or agency for a minimum of 12 months.
- During the 12-month period preceding the beginning of the leave period, the employee performed a minimum of 1,250 hours of work.
If an employee is eligible for FMLA or NJFLA leave, the employer is required by law to keep the employee’s position open during the employee’s leave of absence. It is unlawful for employers to terminate employees for lawfully exercising their rights to family or medical leave, whether during the period of leave, or as retaliation after the employee returns to work.
NORTH JERSEY MEDICAL LEAVE ATTORNEYS REPRESENTING EMPLOYEES
Noncompliance with FMLA or NJFLA requirements may constitute a violation of your rights as an employee in New Jersey. If you believe that your employer has improperly denied you family leave or medical leave, or that you were wrongfully terminated from your job as retaliation for exercising your rights, you should discuss your legal options with a knowledgeable FMLA attorney for employees as soon as possible. To arrange a free legal consultation with the experienced New Jersey employment law attorneys at the Law Offices of Usmaan Sleemi, contact us right away at 973-866-9415.
Law Offices of Usmaan Sleemi LLC.
New Jersey Office:
66 NJ-17 #500,
Paramus, New Jersey 07652