To Qualify for FMLA You Need to have worked 1,250 Hours — How is that Calculated

In a recent decision from the U.S. District Court in Illinois — Caggiano v. Illinois Department of Corrections— the Plaintiff, a prison correctional officer, retroactively requested FMLA leave on April 18, 2012, after being out for three consecutive days caring for his mother on April 7 – 10. The Defendant denied the FMLA request asserting that the Plaintiff had not worked the required 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to taking FMLA leave. The Defendant calculated he was two days short of that 1,250 hours when he began his leave.

The FMLA has three basic requirements for an employee to qualify for FMLA (provided the employer is a covered employer).

  1. The employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
  2. The employer must have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately prior to the start of the FMLA leave; and
  3. The employee must work in a location where at least 50 employees work within a 75 mile radius.

In Caggiano, the second requirement was at issue. The employer claimed that the Plaintiff only worked 7.5 hours per day because the half-hour he took for lunch each day did not constitute hours worked. But the Plaintiff disagreed. He claimed that the FLSA defines what constitutes work and, in his case, his half-hour lunch period constituted time worked and brought his total hours worked in the prior 12 months up to 1,299. The Plaintiff argued that under the FLSA his lunch periods had to be counted as time worked because he was not “relieved at lunch”, not able to “leave the premises”, not able to “eat in the lunchroom”, always “ate on duty in the dayroom with inmates”, and presented ample testimony to sustain these claims.

This case illustrates how various laws creating employee rights can be interrelated and how important to it is to look at an employee’s situation from all possible angles.

If you have an FMLA question or an overtime issue, you should  consult with an employment attorney. Maduff & Maduff has been specializing in the FMLA, discrimination, wage theft, and other employee rights for more than 20 years. Contact us today for more information.