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Medical Leave

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may both protect an employee who needs to take leave from employment because of a medical condition. This page contains information on the right to leave under both the ADA and FMLA.

Laws and Legislation – FMLA and the ADA:

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave. FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women.

FMLA Statute: 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. [PDF] [Word]

FMLA Federal Regulations: 29 C.F.R. Part 825 

ADA Title I Statute and Federal Regulations (links to section on NDRN Employment Discrimination Law web page)

Major U.S. Supreme Court Cases

Ragsdale et al. v. Wolverine World Wide, Inc., ____ U.S. ___, 122 S. Ct. 1155 (2002) [FINDLAW]
The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a Department of Labor regulation (29 C.F.R. § 825.700(a) that required employers to grant employees 12 additional weeks of leave if the employer did not inform the employee that an absence would count against the employee's FMLA entitlement.

Nevada Dept. of Human Resources et al. v. Hibbs et al., ___U.S.___, 122 S.Ct. 2618 (2002) [FINDLAW]
The U.S. Supreme Court held that Congress properly abrogated 11th Amendment state sovereign immunity in enacting the family care provision of the FMLA. The decision allows state employees to sue a state agency for monetary damages for violating the FMLA family care provision, which allows an employee to take leave to care for certain allying family members. The Supreme Court, however, did not decide whether a state can be sued for monetary damages for violating the self-care provision of the FMLA, which allows an individual to take leave for one’s own medical condition. This issue of whether 11th Amendment sovereign immunity applies to the self-care provision is therefore currently being decided by federal appeals courts which remain split on the issue.

Administrative Agency Resources Regarding Leave under the FMLA and ADA

U.S. Department of Labor FMLA Website
The Department of Labor, as the federal agency responsible for oversight and some enforcement of the FMLA, has a multitude of resources on the FMLA and other leave issues. Specific information includes:

Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Though the Department of Labor is responsible for oversight and some enforcement of the FMLA, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for oversight and enforcement of Title I of the ADA, which may include leave as a reasonable accommodation. The following provides guidance issued by the EEOC on the relationship between the FMLA and the ADA.

Enforcement Guidance: Facts About the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Other Medical Leave Resources

Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act
Information on the rights under the FMLA prepared by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

FMLA and ADA Fact Sheet
A brief fact sheet and comparison of the coverage and rights to medical leave under the ADA and FMLA. Created by Equip for Equality (Illinois P&A) and adopted and edited by NDRN. [PDF] [Word]

Interaction Between the FMLA and the ADA 
A detailed description of the rights and coverage of the ADA and FMLA in terms of medical leave. Alan Goldstein, Equip for Equality (Illinois P&A). [PDF] [Word]

Video Highlight




Learn about the laws that exist to protect people with disabilities in the workplace.


Segregated and Exploited arrow

Read NDRN's reports on segregated employment and the practice of paying people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.