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Manhattan chef sues chic hotel for alleged FMLA violation

A worker should not have to choose between caring for a family member who is suffering from a serious medical condition and reporting for work. That is the general idea behind the Family and Medical Leave Act. The protections of the important federal workers’ rights law have some limitations. A worker must have put in 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the month he or she takes FMLA leave. Additionally, a person must have worked for the employer for at least one year. The 12 months do not necessarily have to be consecutive. The FMLA recognizes that many people work seasonal jobs.

The FMLA generally applies to businesses that have at least 50 employees working within 75 miles of the business location where a person requesting FMLA protection works. Workers may seek up to 12 weeks of unpaid, but job protected, medical leave to care for a seriously ill family member. In military families, additional time may be requested in specific circumstances.

Workers may generally need to provide sufficient notice to the employer. The law recognizes a general rule that 30 days notice is appropriate. However, medical emergencies do not often allow someone to wait 30 days. In these situations, an employee seeking medical leave should provide notice as soon as possible. The day a worker learns of the need for leave, or the following work day should be sufficient in most circumstances, according to the Department of Labor.

A former chef at a SoHo Hotel says that his employer violated the FMLA when he needed to take time off from work while his wife was dying. The woman suffered organ failure and a stroke last December. On Dec. 15, 2013, she was hospitalized in critical condition. Her husband was working as a night chef at Crosby Street Hotel. He notified his boss of the dire situation.

He says that his boss, chef Anthony Paris, who New Yorkers may remember from his 2010 win on the television series, “Chopped,” was sympathetic to the situation, at first. That sympathy waned in a matter of days. By Dec. 23, the man was wrongfully terminated, according to his FMLA violation lawsuit. The man’s wife died on Dec. 24, 2013.

Source: CBS New York, “Former Crosby Street Hotel Chef Says He Was Fired While Caring For Dying Wife,” April 8, 2014 

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