You Don’t Have to Put Up With Retaliation
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives qualifying employees approximately 12 weeks of unpaid time off to handle family caregiving and medical issues. You should be able to return to your job after leave with zero repercussions.
However, employers don’t always honor their obligations under the FMLA.
Cases of retaliation are, unfortunately, not as rare as they should be, and many employees find their employers making it difficult or impossible for them to take the leave they’re entitled to—or return to work once they’ve taken leave.
Here are a few signs your employer may be violating your FMLA rights.
1. Your Employer Doesn’t Recognize Your Request
You don’t have to specifically use the term “FMLA” to request FMLA leave. An employer should look at your request and realize what category your leave falls under, based on the circumstances.
2. Your Employer Requires an Inappropriate Amount of Notice
Employees have certain obligations under the FMLA. For instance, if your reason for leaving is something foreseeable, the law stipulates that you have to give 30 days’ notice unless that’s unworkable.
However, there are two ways employers break this rule. The first is by requiring you to give more notice than the law allows—like 60 days.
The second occurs when there’s an emergency—such as a sudden diagnosis or a major accident. In those cases, the FMLA expects employers to have a certain amount of flexibility.
If your employer isn’t giving you the flexibility you need to handle an emergency medical or caregiving issue, they may be violating your FMLA rights.
3. Your Employer Denies or Delays Your Leave
Your employer can ask you to schedule medical treatments at a time that isn’t too disruptive to your job, or give 30 days’ notice when your reason for needing FMLA leave is foreseeable.
However, problems arise when your employer tries to delay or deny your FMLA leave in other scenarios where it doesn’t have a right to. For instance, if your physician tells you that you need major surgery this week, it’s generally not appropriate for your employer to ask you to delay that surgery because it’s not a good time for them.
4. Your Employer Expects You to Work While on Leave
FMLA leave is leave. Your employer should not ask you to work from home or be available by phone or email while you’re on it.
There have been cases where, instead of granting FMLA leave, the employer asked the employee to work from home for a certain number of hours each week.
The problem with this scenario is that the employer then has performance expectations that can be difficult to live up to when the employee is dealing with a major health issue or all-consuming caregiving tasks.
In these cases, employees often wind up fired for “performance issues” while on leave. When those cases go to court, juries often find that the employees’ rights have been violated.
5. Your Employer Makes It Difficult to Take Intermittent Leave
You can take your FMLA leave in one large sum, or you can scale back the number of hours or days you work per week. This is called “intermittent leave.”
While you’re on intermittent leave, your employer can violate your FMLA rights in a number of ways—including demoting you or loading you up with too much work to accomplish within specified hours.
6. Your Employer Disciplines You for Taking FMLA Leave
It’s unlawful to fire an employee for taking FMLA leave—that’s perhaps the most egregious example of a violation of employee rights. It still happens, but it’s actually more common for employers to punish employees for being absent under FMLA leave.
This can take a number of forms. You may experience verbal or other types of abuse when you return from leave, or while at the workplace under intermittent leave. Or, your employer may view your FMLA leave as an unexcused absence, or use it as a mark against you in deciding not to give you a promotion.
7. Your Employer Doesn’t Reinstate You at Your Previous Level
When you’re done with leave, your employer is required to return you to your previous job, or an equivalent job. Everything—including your job duties, location, benefits, and pay—should be the same or equivalent.
If that’s not the case when you return, your employer may be violating your rights.
What to Do if You Suspect Your FMLA Rights Are Being Violated
If you believe your FMLA rights are being violated, call an employment lawyer. You have to act fast in these cases, as there are frequently stringent statutes of limitations involved.
Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, confidential consultation today.
The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.