The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Federal Law Protecting Massachusetts Workers

Employees are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (the FMLA) if they meet certain requirements, including that they worked for the employer for at least 12 months, that they worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months, and that their employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

If an employee meets these requirements, he or she can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for any of the following reasons:

  • Birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child;
  • To care for the employee’s own serious health problems;
  • To care for health problems of the employee’s child, spouse, or parent;

If an employee takes time off, he or she must be restored to the same or equivalent position when coming back to work.


In our work as attorneys representing employees in Massachusetts, we have often seen employees discharged for illegal reasons that violate the FMLA. Pregnant women who take time off to give birth are often fired when they are temporarily out, or, if they come back, have their pay reduced. Other times, employees have to take time off because they or their families become unexpectedly sick, and are fired while on leave. Such actions by employers are unlawful.

To take time off under the FMLA, the employee simply has to give notice 30 days in advance, or “as soon as is practicable.” Many employers will have a form to fill out for record-keeping purposes, and can require the employee to provide written medical certification within 15 days. And although the employee does not have to be paid during the leave, the employer must continue any health insurance on the same terms during the leave. For example, if an employer normally pays 50% of health insurance costs, they must continue to pay that amount during any FMLA leave.

If an employee has their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act violated, they can file a complaint with the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, or file a lawsuit in state or federal court. There is a two-year statute of limitations on violations of the FMLA. Not only is an employee entitled to have their attorney fees paid, they are also entitled to lost wages, benefits, or other compensatory damages.

A Massachusetts employment lawyer such as our firm, Culik Law PC, can advise you on your rights under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act if you believe they have been violated.

Culik Law is a Massachusetts Law Firm. The posts on Culik Law’s blog are not intended as legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, CONTACT CULIK LAW for a Free Consultation.

Joe Culik

Joe Culik

Attorney Joe Culik has built his reputation on helping people and has dedicated his practice in Boston, Massachusetts to consumer protection, employee rights, and small business and franchise law.