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Unexpected things happen. For employees, a leave of absence may be necessary to deal with a serious medical issue or to help a family member through a, particularly challenging time. This raises some important questions for both employers and employees:

  • When is a worker legally entitled to a leave of absence or time off due to a medical issue or to care for a family member?
  • When can an employer deny a worker’s request for a leave of absence?

These are often complicated questions—there are not always easy answers. At Pierce / Jewett, our Virginia leave of absence attorneys have extensive experience advising companies and employees in the full range of leave of absence cases. We can help you navigate the law on these complicated issues.

With offices in Norfolk and Richmond, our employment lawyers are well-positioned to serve clients throughout Central Virginia and the Hampton Roads region. For a confidential review of your leave of absence case, please contact us today.

Leave Of Absence: The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualifying employees. For example, the law may require the employer to provide a leave of absence, light-duty work, a closer parking space, a different work schedule, or additional break time.

Whether an employer is required to provide an employee with a leave of absence under the ADA is a context-specific, and often complicated question. “Disability” is a broad term designed to encompass a large number of conditions. For employers and employees located in Richmond, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and throughout Virginia, the term “Disability” can also include temporary impairments, such as an injured knee or back.

Leave Of Absence Under The Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The other important law that provides certain workers with the legal right to take a job-protected leave of absence is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under the FMLA, employers are required to provide their employees up to 12 weeks of medical leave to attend to a serious medical condition/ or to care for a close relative who has a serious medical condition. The FMLA imposes strict requirements on companies, however, when dealing with employees who qualify for FMLA time.

Qualifying For FMLA

To be clear, the FMLA does not apply to all companies in Virginia. In fact, the FMLA covers employers that have at least 50 total workers within a 75-mile range. In other words, small businesses are generally exempt from this federal law.

Beyond that, employees must put in at least 12 months and 1,250 work hours at a company before they are eligible to take job-protected leave under the FMLA. Thus, for example, an employee who just started his or her job this month is not covered by the FMLA.

Once again, it should be emphasized that an employee who does not qualify for FMLA leave, may still qualify for leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, employees may be entitled to a leave of absence under the ADA for a wide range of medical conditions, including mental illnesses and emotional disorders, such as anxiety. Employers and employees must ensure that they understand their rights and responsibilities.

Retaliation Is Strictly Prohibited

Employers cannot take adverse action against an employee simply because they request leave or because they took leave. If an employee is fired, demoted, or otherwise retaliated against for taking a leave of absence, an employer may bear legal liability. If you believe that your rights were violated under the FMLA or ADA or if you are an employer who is facing a complaint for retaliation, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Virginia employment lawyer right away.

Why Hire The Virginia FMLA Lawyers At Pierce / Jewett

Our labor and employment division only takes on a limited number of cases. We are committed to providing each and every client with sophisticated, fully personalized legal guidance. If you are involved in any type of FMLA case or leave of absence dispute, Pierce / Jewett is ready to help. Among other things, our Virginia leave of absence attorneys are prepared to:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of your employment law case;
  • Carefully explain the legal implications;
  • Establish reasonable goals and objectives with you;
  • Meticulously execute the plan and take appropriate action to protect your interests. 

Of course, not every employment law case ends up in litigation, and often times avoiding litigation makes the most sense under the circumstances. Our Virginia employment lawyers, therefore, tailor the approach of each case to help our clients find the best possible solutions. Still, our litigation-tested attorneys are always ready for litigation should pursuing or defending a lawsuit be necessary to protect your interests. 

Get Help From Our Virginia Leave Of Absence Lawyer Today

At Pierce / Jewett, our Virginia employment law attorneys have deep experience handling Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims. We represent employers and employees. For a confidential employment law consultation, please contact our law firm today at 804-502-2320.

With law offices in Richmond and Norfolk, we represent employers and employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.