Demystifying the Linkage of Federal and State Employment Laws
By Lais Washington, JD
Director of Compliance
Liberty Mutual Group Insurance
Workplace injuries often trigger state workers’ compensation laws. However, on-the-job injuries may also trigger employee protections under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers need to know the purpose and protections under each law, and when each law is triggered.
Workers’ compensation (WC) generally doesn’t provide job-protected leave, though protections vary from state to state. It compensates injured employees for lost wages and ensures their work-related medical bills are paid. FMLA provides job-protected leave to eligible employees with serious health conditions. The ADA applies to all covered employers with 15 or more employees, penalizes employer discrimination against qualified employees or job applicants with a disability, and provides for reasonable accommodations. Both the FMLA and ADA apply whether or not an individual’s condition is work related. While the ADA doesn’t have any leave-specific provisions, leave may be considered a reasonable accommodation under ADA.
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