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Medical leave as a reasonable accommodation

We often receive calls from employees and employers about unpaid medical leave from work. Callers want to know whether an employee who has a serious health condition under the FMLA, but who cannot return to work after 12 weeks of FMLA leave, has any additional legal protections. The answer is that it depends. Many court cases recognize that finite and short additional periods of unpaid medical leave beyond the 12 weeks afforded by the FMLA can be a reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Employers who receive requests for additional unpaid medical leave should ask appropriate questions to determine the length of additional leave the employee is seeking, the likelihood that the additional leave will enable the employee to return to work, and how other employees who require leave for reasons unrelated to health or disability are treated. In the run of cases, finite and short periods of additional medical leave are a reasonable form of accommodation, particularly when the prognosis for recovery is favorable. This means that in many situations, an employer will be required to grant the request for additional unpaid medical leave, provided it does not impose or create an undue hardship. Of course, every case depends on its unique facts.

Lamberton interviewed for CBS Pittsburgh piece on FMLA

Allegheny County officials are paying UPMC more than a half million taxpayer dollars to deny workers their rights to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.  In this piece by CBS Pittsburgh, Charles A. Lamberton discusses how employers can interfere with protected FMLA rights by making unnecessary and burdensome requests for information beyond what the FMLA permits.

FMLA supports servicemen and women

Earlier this year, the Department of Labor issued a final rule implementing recent amendments that expanded the FMLA to meet the unique challenges confronting military families and those who care for our wounded warriors. Serving your country is an honorable and rewarding career, but one that also calls upon the strengths of a servicemember’s entire family. For every soldier on the front lines, there is a support team at home steadfastly marching forward, filling voids left while a loved one serves. Here’s how the law can help:

Family and Medical Leave Act> The FMLA’s Military Caregiver Leave provides time away from work to assist a service member who has suffered a serious illness or injury in the line of duty. A family member who works for a covered employer and meets the eligibility requirements of the FMLA may be entitled to take up to 26 workweeks of unpaid leave, during a single 12-month period. This leave is available to family members of current service members and certain veterans of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard or Reserves.

> The FMLA’s qualifying exigency leave provisions mean that a family member who works for a covered employer and meets eligibility requirements may be entitled to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave to take care of issues related to the foreign deployment of the military member. Examples of qualifying exigencies include time to make or update financial and legal arrangements, to attend military events and related activities, to attend non-medical counseling and for post-deployment activities.

–> Thanks to these expanded protections afforded under the FMLA, family members can take leave to attend a deployment ceremony, spend time with an active duty soldier on rest and recuperation leave, or care for a wounded active duty soldier or veteran while having the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their employer-provided benefits − such as health insurance − are still available, and that their jobs will be there when they return.

No one should have to choose between the job they need and caring for the family that needs them − particularly the families of our men and women in uniform. The FMLA’s protections only have meaning and provide real benefits when our military, their families and veterans are aware of them and use them. Check out the Employee’s Guide to Military Family Leave, the Department’s employee and military worker information cards (in both English and Spanish), and other FMLA materials here.

CNBC Special Report, Charles Lamberton discusses paid sick leave

In this CNBC Special Report, I discuss the lack of paid sick leave in the United States with CNBC’s Mark Koba.  The United States is the only advanced Country on Earth that does guarantee some form of paid sick leave for employees when they are sick or injured.  The absence of paid sick leave hits low income earners especially hard.  It also causes many people to report to work sick rather than stay home and recuperate from their illness.

Click the image to read the full article.

FMLA helps millions of Americans

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) alleviates some of the “work/life” problems that arise every day across the country. The FMLA is a federal law that requires employers to provide employees leave for qualified medical and family reasons, without risk to the employees job. The law seeks to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families.

A version of the FMLA was introduced into Congress every year between 1984 and 1993. Finally, on February 5, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the current Family and Medical Leave Act into law. FMLA guarantees eligible employees at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave for childbirth, adoption, childcare, and to attend to other personal or family health problems. Today, employers are covered by FMLA if they have 50 or more employees working for at least 20 weeks in a year period. Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they have worked for at least 12 months, during which have worked at least 1,250 hours. FMLA leave is available for:

•  Birth and care of the employee’s child;
•  Placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
•  Care of an immediate family member, such as a spouse, parent or child, with a serious health condition;
•  Exigencies arising out of an immediate family member’s active military duty or call to active duty.

Since its implementation, FMLA leave has been used more than 100 million times by an estimated 35 million men and women. While the 20th anniversary has been a time to highlight the many successes of the FMLA, it has also become a platform for the next frontier of legislation. Several million workers a year who are eligible for FMLA leave choose not to take it for financial reasons. Many working families cannot afford to go without a paycheck. In response to this, advocates are gearing up for the next step: paid leave. California is the first state to take this step, enacting paid family leave with access to benefits in July of 2004. New Jersey followed suit in 2008 and Washington State in 2006. Similarly, 26 other states have introduced paid family leave bills and there are efforts to introduce federal paid family leave legislation.




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