The Family Medical Leave Act in D.C.

Washington, D.C. has expanded Family and Medical Leave Act rights and The Erlich Law Office can help you exercise those rights. If you or a family member of yours are seriously ill, you shouldn’t have to choose between taking time off to care for yourself or your loved one and keeping your job.

You may be aware of the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), a federal law that provides for a period of job-guaranteed leave to eligible employees facing a serious health condition or caring for a loved one who is ill.

You should also know about how state and local family and medical leave laws affect your rights in the communities where you live and work. Although these laws are often modeled after the federal act, there are often some important differences.

If you are a qualified employee within the District of Columbia, your employer may be required to provide you with up to 16 weeks of unpaid, job-secure family leave, meaning that if you qualify for and take leave, you should still have a job upon your return.

More specifically, the D.C. Family Medical Leave Act (D.C. FMLA) requires employers with 20 or more employees to provide each of their eligible employees with up to 16 weeks’ leave for a 24-month period if the employee:

  1. gives birth to a child;
  2. adopts a child or becomes a foster parent;
  3. permanently assumes parental responsibility for a child; and
  4. must care for a family member with a serious health condition.

A separate provision in the D.C. FMLA requires D.C. employers with 20 or more employees to provide an eligible worker up to 16 weeks of unpaid, job-secure leave every 24 months for serious health conditions that impair his or her job performance. D.C. Municipal Regulations state that the guarantee of 16 weeks leave to care for a family member is separate from the 16 weeks leave for an employee’s own serious health condition. Thus, the maximum leave a person can qualify for under D.C. FMLA is 32 weeks within a given 24-month period.

ELIGIBILITY

Under D.C. law, an eligible employee for family or medical leave is one who has worked for the employer for at least one year without a break in service, and who has worked for at least 1,000 hours during the 12-month period preceding the request for leave.

OTHER PROTECTIONS

Federal and D.C. family and medical leave laws do not just guarantee an eligible employee’s job upon return. If you qualify for and take, family or medical leave, both federal and D.C. FMLA require that an employer continue to pay for your group health insurance benefits during leave on the same terms that it did before you took leave.

If your employer violates the D.C. FMLA, he or she is responsible for any wages, salary, employment benefits and other compensation you lost due to the violation, plus interest. You may also be able to recover consequential damages, which can be as much as three times the amount of earnings you lost. Also, your employer may be on the line for medical expenses not covered by insurance and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

If you think your employer has violated the D.C. FMLA, please contact us at (703)791-9087or visit our website at www.erlichlawoffice.com for a free consultation.