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Do I have a right to take family or medical leave?

Sometimes people need to take time off from work to deal with a serious medical condition or to care for a family member who is seriously ill. However, many workers fear they will put their jobs at risk if they do so.

Under a law known as the Family and Medical Leave Act, most workers who find themselves in this situation have a right to take unpaid leave without fear of reprisal from their employer. In Florida, you can also take leave if you are a victim of domestic violence.

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that allows employees to take up 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to:

  • Recover from a serious health condition
  • Care for a family member who has a serious health condition

The 12 weeks of leave can be used all at once or at different times during the twelve-month period.

Who is eligible to take Family and Medical Leave?

You are eligible to take FMLA leave if you have worked for your employer at least one year and your employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. You must have worked at least 1,200 hours in the year before you take leave.

Eligible family members include parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, children, adopted children and stepchildren.

What if my employer fires me for taking leave?

If your employer fires you for taking leave, you can seek compensation for past and future lost income, emotional distress, and punitive damages from your employer. The law also allows you to recover attorney fees if your employer takes the case to court and loses.

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