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Are LGBT workers entitled to FMLA?

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2022 | Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) |

While LGBT rights continue to advance across the nation, there are some disparities in equality at the state level. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognizes LGBT marriages and unions, and because of a Supreme Court ruling, must also allow LGBT couples to receive the federal benefits corresponding to marriage.

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal program, entitling eligible employees to take job-protected but unpaid leave for specified medical or family reasons. The Commonwealth must abide by these federal entitlements when eligibility exists.

Eligibility for FMLA

All public employers and private employers with at least 50 employees must follow FMLA guidelines. However, employees are eligible if they have at least 12 months of work history in addition to a minimum of 1,250 work hours within the past year. The Department of Labor specifies conditions for FMLA and, depending on the situation, an employee may receive 12 weeks of protected leave. Employees are able to take leave if the care involves a child, spouse or parent.

Discrimination against LGBT workers

Although discrimination is against the law, some employers look for loopholes in defining the terms of FMLA eligibility. The term “serious medical condition” receives attention, as qualified situations do not always include medical procedures or conditions related to a person’s gender transition or gender dysphoria. There is also a concern because of a lack of FMLA eligibility for caring for a partner, whether of the same sex or different.

Through federal guidance, LGBT workers in PA are eligible for FMLA in areas of care for a spouse, child or parent. However, situations involving a partner are not typically eligible.