The Bermuda Triangle: FMLA, ADA, and Workers’ Compensation


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Jul 22nd, 2010

A vacation sounds lovely this time of year, right?  You’d might want to stay away from the Bermuda triangle, though.

What makes this area of the law so confusing for employers?  The fact that each act’s provision freely blends into the other creating murky waters for anyone daring enough to navigate the triangle.  But really, does  it have to be so confusing?  Not at all.  Remember these novice tips and you’ll be sailing smoothly:

First, ADA prohibits discrimination against employees with a disability. FMLA sets minimum leave standards for workers. Finally, Workers’ Compensation provides for payment of compensation and rehabilitation to workers injured on the job.

ADA at a Glance
In most cases, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against employees and applicants who are “qualified individuals with a disability.” Employers cannot discriminate against an individual based upon his or her association with a disabled person (i.e., if the employee has a child or spouse afflicted with a disability).

To be clear, a qualified individual with a disability – protected by the ADA – is a person who can perform the essential functions of his or her job with or without a reasonable accommodation. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability.

FMLA at a Glance
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) establishes a minimum standard for leave, much as other federal laws set standards for child labor, minimum wage, safety and health, or pension and welfare benefits.

Employers with 50 or more full-time employees must, in most cases, comply with FMLA. FMLA does not cover part-time or seasonal employees working fewer than 1,250 hours per year.

Eligible employees may be entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period for:

–the birth of child
–the birth of a child and to care for the child the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care to care for a spouse, son or daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition; or
–a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee’s job

Workers’ Compensation at a Glance
State Workers’ Compensation laws seek to compensate employees for workplace injuries while minimizing employer liability. Most WC laws, which are enacted at the state level, protect both injured workers and their dependants from the costs associated with occupational injury, disease or death. Employers may pay premiums to state-sponsored funds or apply for self-insured status.

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