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Is My Health Issue Serious Enough To Get FMLA Leave? I Need A Lawyer!

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2015 | Family Medical Leave Claims, Wrongful Termination |

Best Ohio FMLA Attorney Answer: If I am admitted to a hospital as a result of a health condition, can I apply for sick leave? If I have a family member that is admitted to the hospital, can I get FML leave? How long must I be admitted to the hospital before I can get FMLA leave? Can I be fired for taking FMLA leave?

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While this may come as a complete shock, many federal laws are long, convoluted and difficult to decipher. Federal employment laws certainly do not break the mold of difficult to understand laws. One such law is Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), which provides protected medical leave to employees dealing with personal health issues or close family members’ health issues.

When an employee is able to actually utilize the leave is one of the many unclear areas of FMLA law. This has lead our employment attorneys to blog on this point frequently. (See Top FMLA Lawyer Reply: Am I Eligible For Medical Leave From My Job?; Are All Employees Eligible For FMLA Leave? Best Employment Lawyer Reply!; What Should I Do If I Was Harassed For Using FMLA? I Need A Lawyer!; 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!; Can My Boss Give Me FMLA Leave And Then Fire Me For Being Not Eligible? Best Lawyer Response!; and Can My Employer Require A Second Opinion Before Giving Me FMLA? I Need A Lawyer!)

Under the FMLA, eligible employees of covered employers may take leave for a “serious health condition” (or to care for a family member with such a “serious health condition”). A “serious health condition” is defined to include “inpatient care in a hospital.” Department of Labor (“DOL”) regulations define “inpatient care” to include “an overnight stay.”

To learn more about your FMLA rights at work or to find out if you have a wrongful termination claims, call attorney Brian D. Spitz and the employment lawyers at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm for a free initial consultation today.

These undefined terms, such as “overnight stay,” are open to multiple interpretations and represent exactly the issue with FMLA. In determining the definition of what constitutes an “overnight stay,” the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in Bonkoswki v. Oberg Industries, Inc., held that an “overnight stay” must span at least two different calendar days.

To make things even more complicated, the court held that the start and stop times are measured from the time of admission to the time of discharge. In Bonkoswki, the employee arrived at the hospital before midnight, but was not admitted until after midnight. The employee was discharged the next night before midnight. Since the admission time is the one that counts to determine an “overnight stay,” the employee was not covered by FMLA.

Based on the Bonkoswki holding, someone can check into a hospital at 11:59 p.m. one night and check out two minutes later at 12:01 a.m. the next day and the stay would be considered “overnight” under FMLA. However, the Bonkoswki court semi-addressed this issue by holding:

Under the circumstances, a minimum of eight hours would seem to be an appropriate period of time. However, because we need not decide this issue to resolve this dispute, we leave this issue of the requisite length of time for another day.

Thus, it would seem that in order to request leave under FMLA, you must be admitted to a hospital for (1) at least 8 hours and (2) those 8 hours must span at least two calendar days. Clear? Maybe. Arbitrary? Of course.

Overall, if an employee has a serious health issue that requires either themselves to be admitted to the hospital or a close family member, it is best to request FMLA leave to make sure your job is protected. Even if you request FMLA, but are not eligible, your employer cannot retaliate against you for asking. To be safe, if you are unsure about whether your particular issue is eligible for FMLA leave, you should contact an employment law attorney that can help you wade through the complicated FMLA guidelines.

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.

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