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FMLA - Washington State Appeals Court Division III Reaffirms Family Medical Leave Act Rights

Updated: Sep 1, 2019

Super excited to report that the Court of Appeals Division III reaffirmed our client's civil rights under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") and Washington State Family Leave Act (WFLA) by reversing the decision of the Yakima County Superior and District courts. Our client made claims of wrongful termination of employment under the FMLA and WFLA, which have been validated by our Court of Appeals.


The FMLA/WFLA were designed by our legislators to enhance our workforce, employers, employees and our overall economy by allowing protected time off work for employees to take care of their (and their immediate family members') medical conditions. The FMLA applies to employers that are engaged in commerce who employ 50 or more employees (within a 75 mile radius from the employees worksite) for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. To be eligible, an employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the twelve-month period immediately preceding the beginning of the leave.


Employees that are eligible may qualify for up to 12 weeks of protected time off in a calendar year for a qualifying serious medical health condition. Before taking this leave, employees have to give their employers at least 30 days notice (unless the need to take leave arises unexpectedly, then a shorter notice is allowed and may even be provided after the taking the leave) of the need for leave. The employer is allowed to request medical documentation from the employee's medical provider.


These 12 weeks may be taken at one time or intermittently as needed.The FMLA/WFLA prescribes that this leave may not be held negatively against an employee and that the employee has to be returned to his/her full position after taking leave. There are some exceptions depending on the type of position that the employee holds.


Here is a link to the full well written decision of our Appeals Court Division III: https://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/index.cfm?fa=opinions.showOpinion&filename=352625MAJ

Here is a link to our State's WFLA rules: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=49.78 and to the federal FMLA: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/29/chapter-28


The Court's decision may still be appealed up to our Washington State Supreme Court for review. Stay tuned.


***August 30, 2019 UPDATE***


Our Supreme Court declined to review the Court of Appeals decision, which upholds the Court of Appeals findings. This decision protects employees that use FMLA leave intermittently from negative employment consequences.


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