The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA") is found at Title 29, United States Code, Sections 2601 and following. The FMLA requires that employers with 50 or more employees provide that eligible employees (those employed for more than one year) with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to care for (a) an employee's own health needs, (2) a newborn or newly placed adopted or foster child, or (c) a seriously ill child, spouse, or parent.

The FMLA applies to (1) employers who employ 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year; (2) joint employers and successors in interest of covered employers; (3) all public and government agencies regardless of number of employees, and (4) all private elementary and secondary schools.

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee for a covered employer must have worked for the employer for a total of at least 12 months; have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles of the worksite where the employee works.

For an employee to be entitled to leave under FMLA for his or her own health care, the employee must be unable to work due to a serious health condition. A serious health condition is defined as "an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves - (A) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or (B) continuing treatment by a health care provider."

To constitute "continuing treatment by a health care provider," the employee must have suffered or undergone (1) a period of incapacity, such as inability to work, attend school, or perform or regular daily activities for more than three consecutive calendar days; (2) an period of incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care; (3) any period of incapacity or treatment for such incapacity due to a chronic serious health condition. A chronic serious health condition is one which requires (a) periodic visits for treatment by a health care provide; (b) continues over an extended period of time; and (c) may cause episodic rather than a continuing period of incapacity (e.g. asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.)

Employees who believe that their rights under FMLA have been violated may either (1) file a complaint with the U. S. Department of Labor or (2) file a lawsuit directly. If the employee wins, he or she may be entitled to an amount of money equal to (1) the amount of compensation denied or lost to the employee because of the violation, plus (2) interest on that amount, plus (3) as liquidated damages, an additional amount equal to the sum of actual damages and interest, and (4) attorney's fees.

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