Family and Medical Leave in Washington, D.C. Lawyers

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What Is The Family And Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”)?

The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, is a federal labor law that was passed in 1993 and requires covered employers to provide their employees with job protected and unpaid leave. This leave is intended for qualified medical and family circumstances, as the Act provides rights and protections associated with medical leave for employees, and may continue the unpaid leave for up to twelve weeks.

Additionally, the Act requires that covered employers maintain health benefits for all eligible workers as if they were still actively working. During this time, the employee’s position is protected; meaning, they legally may not be terminated.

Because it is a federal law, the Act preempts state laws, including instances in which those laws conflict with each other. What this means is that employees who work in states that offer little or no family and medical leave could still be entitled to protections under the FMLA. While some states have laws providing more coverage, most states do not provide more leave than what is required by federal law.

Additionally, not all employers are required to provide the benefits that are required by the FMLA. Federal law only states that employers are required to provide all eligible employees with leave if the employer meets one of the following criteria:

  • They are a state, local, or federal governmental agency;
  • The employer is a private business that conducts interstate commerce, and has fifty or more employees that work twenty or more weeks in one year; or
  • They engage in commerce, or an industry that affects commerce. Nearly every business meets the requirement for being commerce or affecting commerce.

Employers have some considerably specific responsibilities under the FMLA, such as not being permitted to terminate an employee who takes family or medical leave for any reason as outlined in the FMLA. Employees who are working for employers who are covered by the FMLA have a right under federal law to take leave if they qualify. Employers cannot reprimand them for taking this leave, and they may not discriminate when granting FMLA leave. What this means is that an employer cannot grant FMLA leave to one employee but not the other, when the circumstances are essentially identical.

Who Is Eligible To Take FMLA Leave?

In order to receive coverage under the FMLA, an employee must meet all three of the following criteria:

  1. They must have worked for the same employer for the last twelve months;
  2. The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours total over the last twelve months, meaning hours of actual work, not total hours of being employed; and
  3. They must be employed by an employer who is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act, as was previously mentioned.

In addition, the employee must experience a qualifying life event that would trigger the need for FMLA leave. Some examples of qualifying life events include:

  • The birth and care of a newborn child;
  • Placing an adopted or fostered child, that was placed within one year since applying for leave;
  • Needing to care for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition;
  • The employee themselves has a serious condition which makes them unable to perform essential functions of their job, including pregnancy or prenatal care; and/or
  • Their spouse, child, or parent is an active military member who is called to active duty.

Employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave in twelve months, if they take the leave in order to care for a service member spouse, child, parent, or next of kin who has experienced a serious injury or illness. In general, every employee is limited to up to 26 weeks of combined leave over a twelve month period.

Eligible employees are also entitled to the aforementioned benefits and protections:

  • Twelve weeks of unpaid leave;
  • Medical and/or health benefits during their leave; and
  • The restoration of their original job once they return to work, when their leave has ended.

Employees cannot lose their job if they take Family and Medical Leave Act leave, and employers cannot reprimand employees for taking FMLA leave. Employers may not interfere with the FMLA protected rights of the employee, and they cannot use FMLA leave as an adverse factor in any future employment evaluations.

How Do Washington, D.C. Laws Affect My FMLA Rights?

It is important to reiterate that the FMLA is a federal law, which means that it applies equally to every state. As such, the protections mentioned above are available to you, regardless of what your state law says.

While many states have laws that offer less protection and benefits to employees, employers covered by the FMLA must comply with the federal or state provision that provides the greater benefit to their employees. Additionally, you have no obligation to designate whether the leave you take is being granted under the FMLA or state law.

Additional benefits that are provided under D.C. law include, but may not be limited to:

  • Coverage: Washington, D.C. has considerably the most inclusive family leave laws in the country. It covers any employee of any kind, both those who are employed by the District and within the private sector, who works for any kind of employer. If you are employed by a company that is located in Washington D.C., you are covered.
  • Eligibility: You must have worked 1,000 hours over the course of one year in order to become eligible for state protection, which is lower than the FMLA’s mandatory 1,250 hours.
  • Amount: D.C.’s laws consider leave for family care and leave for your own illness as separate forms of leave. As such, you can get 16 weeks off during a 24 month period for both of these cases separately, which comes to a possible total of 8 months of leave per 2 years.
  • Family Members Defined: What constitutes a family member in D.C. is essentially the same as the FMLA, except for the addition of “individual sharing a residence with employee” and “individual with whom the employee has a committed relationship” (gender non-specific). Their definition can also include a child that is not in the legal custody of the employee, but for whom the employee acts as de facto guardian.
  • Substitution of Paid Leave: An employer cannot force an employee to use paid leave, which is different from the FMLA. However, an employee can voluntarily elect to use their paid leave as a substitution. Additionally, D.C.’s laws allow for other employees to donate paid leave to the employee in question.

Washington D.C. law states that you must give “reasonable notice” to your employer before going on leave. This is commonly interpreted to mean that D.C. follows the FMLA guidelines on providing notice, which state that you must provide 30 days notice if possible. When not possible, you must provide notice as soon as you can.

Do I Need A Lawyer For Help With Family And Medical Leave In Washington, D.C.?

Family and medical leave can be particularly difficult to navigate, as it is full of overlapping statutes. An employment attorney in Washington D.C. will be familiar with both state and federal law, and as such they can help you secure the leave that you are entitled to. Further, should court intervention be necessary, an experienced attorney can also represent you in court.

Save Time and Money - Speak With a Lawyer Right Away

  • Buy one 30-minute consultation call or subscribe for unlimited calls
  • Subscription includes access to unlimited consultation calls at a reduced price
  • Receive quick expert feedback or review your DIY legal documents
  • Have peace of mind without a long wait or industry standard retainer
  • Get the right guidance - Schedule a call with a lawyer today!

16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer