Best Ohio Medical Leave Attorney Answer: How long do you have to work to be eligible for FMLA? What do I have to do to be eligible for FMLA leave? What if my employer offers a more generous FMLA policy than the law requires – can I hold him to it?
Our employment law lawyers have blogged before regarding the eligibility requirements governing the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and employees’ rights there under. (See Can I Sue My Boss For Interfering With My FMLA Leave? I Need A Lawyer!; Can I Be Denied FMLA Because I Am A Key Employee? I Need A Lawyer!; and Can I Sue If I Was Fired For Requesting FMLA Leave? I Need A Lawyer!)
But a recent case decided by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio) – Tilly v. Kalamazoo County Road Commission – has changed the way we have to assess FMLA claims.
First, let’s review some FMLA basics. In short, the FMLA guarantees eligible employees who work for covered employers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their own medical needs or the medical needs of a family member. However, the devil is in the details. Specifically, who is an “eligible” employee, and what is a “covered” employer? (Am I Eligible For Medical Leave From My Job?)
As an initial matter, only “covered” employers have to give their employees FMLA time. An employer with 50 or more employees is “covered” for purposes of the FMLA.
Next, even if you work for a covered employer, you are only eligible for FMLA leave if you have been employed by that employer for 12 months (non-consecutive employment is okay); if you have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 month period preceding your taking leave; and you must work at a location where your employer employs 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.
Unfortunately, that means lots of workers are not eligible for FMLA leave. But what if your employer is generous, and promises more FMLA leave than the law requires? If he breaks that promise, can you hold him accountable by taking him to court?
Terry Tilly worked for the Kalamazoo County Road Commission. He experienced chest pains, and wanted to take a leave of absence in order to address his medical condition. He looked to his company’s FMLA policy to determine if he was eligible. The pertinent provision in his the policy stated: “Employees covered under the FMLA are full-time employees who have worked for the Road Commission and accumulated 1,250 work hours in the previous 12 months.” The policy made no reference to the requirement that eligible employees had to work at a location where the Commission employed 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius.
Terry had worked at the Commission for more than 12 months and he had logged more than 1,250 hours during the twelve month period preceding his taking leave. Therefore, he believed he was eligible for FMLA leave, and he sought the necessary medical treatment.
He was fired while on leave for failing to complete his work to his employer’s expectations. Terry filed a wrongful termination law suit, claiming the Commission violated his rights under the FMLA.
The Commission sought to dismiss his suit, claiming that he was not eligible under the FMLA since he did not work at a location where his employer employed 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. However, the Court held that because the Commission had left out the third FMLA eligibility prong in its eligibility provision, a “reasonable person in [Terry’s] position could fairly have believed that he was protected by the FMLA.”
The take away for employees? Know the law and your employer’s own policies regarding FMLA leave. And, when in doubt, call an attorney.
The Commission would have been within its rights to do what many other employers have done, and refer to the FMLA’s third prong of eligibility in its own policy manual. However, it did not. The Court said that in such cases, employers had to live by their own words. To put it another way, when employers mis-represent the requirement s of FMLA eligibility to its employees, then they will have live up to their word.
Review your employer’s FMLA policy carefully. If it promises more coverage than the law allows, you can – and should – hold your employer to that promise.
If you feel that you are being denied leave rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or are being retaliated against for taking medical leave, you should call the right attorney as quickly as possible to schedule a free and confidential consultation. The phone number to contact an Ohio attorney for FMLA help is 866-797-6040. While you focus on your family medical needs, let our FLMA attorneys focus on your medical leave rights.
This employment law website is an advertisement. The materials available at the top of this medical leave page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “how do I get medical leave under the FMLA?”, “what should I do when my job won’t give me medical leave?”, “can my boss deny me medical leave?”, “what should I do if I was fired in retaliation for taking FMLA leave?”, or “is my employer allowed to…?”, your best option is to contact an Ohio medical leave attorney to obtain advice with respect to FMLA questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.