The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that was enacted in 1993 to help employees in Rhode Island and the rest of the country balance their work and family responsibilities. So if you have a qualifying medical condition or a close family does, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year to deal with it.
Eligibility for FMLA in Rhode Island
The Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor is responsible for administering and enforcing the FMLA. According to the employment law, eligible employees include people who:
- Work for a covered employer
- Work at a location where the employer employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles
- Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months
- Have worked at least 1250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the leave
The FMLA covers the following reasons for taking leave:
- A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job functions
- The placement of a child for adoption or foster care
- The birth of a child or to care for a newborn baby
- To care for a severely ill close relative
- Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty in the armed forces
Your rights under the FMLA in Rhode Island
It is unlawful for an employer in Rhode Island to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise any FMLA right. Moreover, it is illegal for them to discharge or discriminate against employees that have exercised their FMLA rights.
If you have been denied leave or have been retaliated against for taking or attempting to take FMLA leave, you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor or file a private lawsuit against your employer. You may be entitled to reinstatement to your former job, back pay, interest on the back pay, damages for mental anguish and pain and suffering and reasonable attorney’s fees. You may also be entitled to punitive damages in some cases.