As a worker, you have a lot of protections under state and federal law. One of the most commonly relied upon laws is the Family Medical Leave Act. This federal law allows you to take time off from work for several weeks without fear of losing your job. Many workers avail themselves of this protected leave when they’re struck with a sudden illness or injury, or when they want to take time off to care for a newborn child.
However, given the complexities of this law, there are often a lot of misunderstandings. Your employer probably isn’t going to go out of its way to help you understand the intricacies involved with this law, which means that you could be left at a disadvantage when you try to navigate it on your own. Your employer might also unfairly punish you for taking time off, but unless you know your protections under the law, you might not think about challenging the action that’s been taken against you.
What common FMLA violations occur?
To protect yourself as fully as possible, it’s helpful to know some of the most commonly seen FMLA violations. That way, you know when it’s appropriate to take action on your rights. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the most common FMLA violations that occur in the workplace:
- You’re not notified of your rights: Your employer has an obligation to inform you of your protections under the FMLA. If it doesn’t, you might fail to avail yourself of the benefits provided to you, which infringes on your workplace protections.
- Leave under the FMLA is denied: In far too many instances, FMLA leave requests are denied. If the denial is erroneous, you’ll be left without the time off that you need and to which you’re entitled. This can lead to poor work performance, which can then lead to the next violation.
- Unwarranted discipline and retaliation: Some employers punish their employees for trying to take federally protected leave. Although these employers sometimes outright deny leave, in other instances, they unfairly criticize their employees’ performance when they take time off. These poor remarks regarding performance can then lead to adverse employment actions, such as demotion, reassignment and even termination.
- You can’t return to your same position: Depending on the length of your leave, you should be able to return to your same position when you come back from leave. But in many instances, employers fill that position, thereby causing them to reassign you to a different, sometimes less favorable, job. This can be a violation of the FMLA, and it might leave you at a disadvantage.
- Asking you to work while on leave: When you’re on leave, you shouldn’t be working. If your employer asks you to finish some tasks while you’re out on leave, you’ve been denied your federally protected rights under the FMLA.
- Sharing information about your medical condition: You’re going to have to provide your employer with a medical justification for your leave. But your employer shouldn’t share that private information with others in your workplace. If they do share that information, your employer has violated your privacy.
Taking action to hold your employer accountable
A violation of your rights under the FMLA can lead to significant harm. You might even end up losing your job, which can put you in a financial predicament.
Fortunately, you don’t have to sit back and take what your employer has given to you. Instead, you can educate yourself about the law so that you can take appropriate action to protect your rights and secure the compensation that you deserve. An attorney who is experienced in this area of the law may be able to help you develop the strong case that you need to further those interests, which is why you might want to consider talking to one of these legal professionals sooner rather than later.