Hollywood stars are susceptible to illness and personal tragedy just like everyone else. When personal illness rears its ugly head, federal employment laws step in to offer job protection to stars and California residents alike.

Most commonly, these protections are included under the Family Medical Leave Act. Benefits under this federal law include unpaid medical leave from a person’s job while they deal with a qualified personal illness or family illness. Under FMLA, people can take up to 12 weeks leave without fear of losing their jobs.

Last month, ABC’s Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts announced to viewers world that she is seriously ill. Roberts has been diagnosed with a disease called MDS, which used to be called preleukemia. MDS is a disease that affects a person’s blood and bone marrow. As a result, Roberts suffers from fatigue and will undergo treatment, including a bone marrow transplant.

Late last month, while speaking at Television Critics Association conference in Beverly Hills, California, Roberts told reporters that she would be taking medical leave from her job with ABC. During her leave, she will receiving and recovering from a bone marrow transplant. According to Roberts, her leave will begin in either late August or early September.

During her announcement, Roberts also said that many other television personalities will be filling in for her at Good Morning America. While most people may not be so lucky to have replacements at work while they are sick, they are still entitled to the same leave that Roberts is taking.

Sick employees should not have to worry about their job security, but should worry about getting better so they can get back to work. FMLA affords them this opportunity. However, in order qualify for FMLA benefits, the employer and the employee both must meet certain eligibility requirements. California employees also may have further protections under state employment laws.

Source: The Modesto Bee, “‘GMA’ host may take medical leave late next month,” Frazier Moore, July 26, 2012