As a worker, you have several federal protections under the Family Medical Leave Act, commonly referred to as FMLA. This law allows you to take time off after the birth of a child or suffering from a serious medical condition or injury. While on leave, the FMLA allows you to return to your job if you do so within a certain period of time. In many instances, you can even continue to receive some sort of pay through your employer if you use your accrued paid leave in conjunction with FMLA leave.
Although the FMLA gives you pretty broad protection, the sad reality is employers violate this act all the time. Workers who are unfamiliar with the law may not even realize that they’re being cheated out of their rights under the FMLA, which can leave them without the leave time or the compensation that they need.
Common ways that FMLA rights are violated
If you want to protect your rights under the FMLA, then you need to be on the lookout for some of the most common ways that employers stray from this federal law. Here are some of the most common violations:
- Your employer requires improper notice: Under federal law, you have to give your employer at least 30 days’ notice of your intent to take leave if the event, such as the birth of a child or a medical procedure, is foreseeable. Sometimes, though, employers try to force employees to provide them with more than 30 days’ notice, either directly or indirectly stating that anything less than their required notice will lead to a leave request denial. This is illegal. The same holds true in emergency situations. Your employer should have some flexibility in granting you leave. So, if it doesn’t, then you might want to consider discussing the matter with your attorney.
- Your employer asks you to work while you’re on leave: When you go on FMLA leave, there should be no expectation that you’ll continue to work. So, as you prepare to take leave, be clear about the conversation that you have with your employer. Don’t let your employer trick you into agreeing to work from home rather than taking the federally protected leave that you need. If you allow your employer to implement some sort of work-from-home arrangement, then you could be at risk of an adverse employment decision based on performance issues given that it’s difficult to work when you’re recovering from a medical procedure or illness.
- Your employer uses your leave against you: Since FMLA leave is protected under the law, in most instances you should be able to return to work and pick up where you left off. In some cases, though, employers hold the leave against an employee. They may use the leave as a justification to forego promotion or a raise, or a worker may even be disciplined for taking leave.
Hold your employer accountable for illegal actions
These are just three of the big ways that employers violate the FMLA. There are a whole host of other actions that are illegal under the act and that occur all the time. So, if you think that you’ve been treated unfairly at work and that your FMLA rights have been violated, then you might want to consider discussing your situation with an attorney who is experienced in employment law. Perhaps then you can find accountability, recover compensation, and get back to work as you initially intended.