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Do I have to take FMLA leave all at once?

If you are experiencing a significant medical or family event in your life, it can be very disruptive to your day-to-day life. As a result, you may need to take time away from other daily activities in your life, including your job.

If you need to take time off your job because you are suffering from a serious health condition, are giving birth or adopting a child, or need to care for a family member, it is possible to do so under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although you may have heard that you need to take your 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the act as a single uninterrupted block of time, this does not have to be the case.

When is intermittent leave available?

Under the FMLA, you are entitled to take intermittent leave (or be granted leave on a reduced schedule) if a "serious health condition" makes you unable to do your job. Additionally, intermittent leave is available if you need to care for a parent, spouse, son or daughter that has a serious health condition, or care for a newborn or newly adopted child.

What do you have to do before taking leave?

If you would like to take intermittent leave after the birth of your child or an adoption, you must get your employer's permission before doing so. If, on the other hand, you would like to take your 12 weeks intermittently for a medical condition or to care for an eligible person, you must make reasonable efforts to notify your employer beforehand. This basically means that you must give notice as far in advance as practicable (in most cases, 30 days is sufficient unless your need for leave is unexpected). Additionally, you are required to minimize the negative impact on your employer by scheduling your leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt your employer's business operations.

Questions? Speak with an attorney

Although the FMLA protects you against being fired for taking leave, there are several exceptions to this rule. If you believe that you are wrongfully being denied leave or were terminated because you exercised your rights under the FMLA, contact an experienced employment law attorney. An attorney can listen to your situation and work on your behalf to ensure that your rights are protected.

View Cases

  • Sheridan v. E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 100 F.3d 1061 (3rd Cir. 1996) (en banc) (Plaintiff's jury verdict and the "pretext only" paradigm for proof of intentional discrimination established).
  • Hawkins v. Division of State Police, et al., C.A. No. 99-297-SLR (Religious discrimination case which successfully obtained an offer of judgment and caused the State to stop using the MMPI-1.
  • Miller v. Daimler Chrysler Corp., C. A. No. 01-827-JJF (D.Del. 2003) (Race Discrimination claim survived Motion for Summary Judgment).
  • Panaro v. J.C. Penny, Inc., C.A. 01C-02-010 JOH, 2002 WL 130692 (Del. Super. 2002)(In a personal injury case, admission into evidence of direct examination of deceased deponent/plaintiff does not.
  • Price, et al. v. L. Aaron Chaffinch, et al., C.A. No. 04-956-GMS, 2006 WL 1313178 (D.Del. 2006) (First Amendment Retaliation, Petitions Clause and Defamation Claims survived Motion for Summary Judgment).
  • Reyes v. Freebery, 141 Fed. Appx. 49 (3d Cir. 2005) (per curiam) remanding to District Court to explain its restrictions on the public's right to access to judicial records and counsel's First Amendment.
  • Underwood v. Sear Roebuck and Co., 343 F.Supp.2d 259 (D.Del. 2004) (Gender discrimination claim survived Motion for Summary Judgment).
  • Shotzberger v. State of Delaware Dept. Of Correction, 2004 WL 758354 (D.Del. Jan. 30, 2004) (Gender discrimination claim survived Motion for Summary Judgement).
  • Stull v. Thomas S. Neuberger, P.A., 2003 WL 21481016 (Del. Super. Febr. 28, 2003) (Effect of Delaware accord and satisfaction law on a contract for legal services).
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