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Horton Law Firm Blog The Family and Medical Leave Act for SC Employees

 | The Family and Medical Leave Act for SC Employees

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to South Carolina employers with more than 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of where the employee works. However, a South Carolina employee only becomes eligible for FMLA leave if the employee has been employed for at least twelve months and has worked at least 1,250 hours. If the employee meets those criteria, then the employee is eligible for FMLA leave if the need arises.

FMLA covers leave that an employee might need for the following primary reasons:

  • The employee’s own serious medical condition
  • The serious medical condition of a spouse, child, or parent
  • The birth of a child or place of a child for adoption or foster care

The FMLA defines a serious health condition as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider. Both physical and mental health conditions qualify for FMLA leave.

If an employee is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, then the employee has access to protected leave for up to twelve weeks in a twelve month period. The employee can take leave continuous leave all at once, or it can be taken as needed, if such intermittent leave is supported by your doctor’s recommendation.

However, this leave is unpaid leave, not paid leave. If an employee has any accrued PTO or vacation time, the employer can require that such time is used up first. If short term disability benefits are available, an employee may apply for the those benefits while out on FMLA leave.

Further, while the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is not specifically a medical leave statute, the ADA can sometimes work hand in hand with the Family and Medical Leave Act. For example, when an employee’s FMLA leave runs out at twelve weeks, the ADA may provide a period of further unpaid leave as an accommodation. If a company fails to engage in the interactive process with the employee about possible ADA leave, then the employee may have a separate ADA claim to discuss with the EEOC.

If an employer in South Carolina interferes with an employee’s FMLA rights or retaliates against an employee for asking for or taking FMLA, then the employee can bring a lawsuit against the company, seeking lost wages, liquidated damages (double damages), and attorney’s fees. The law provides for a 2-year statute of limitations (3 years in some circumstances). If your FMLA rights have been denied, you should seek out the advice of an experienced South Carolina FMLA lawyer for a more detailed review of your facts.

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