When you or a covered family member experience a serious illness or injury, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can provide you with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave while also protecting your job. However, not every employer follows the requirements of this law. What should you know about FMLA violations?
3 forms an FMLA violation can take
While employees have a right to take FMLA leave to care for their own health or a family member, employers may avoid providing them with that leave in a variety of ways. Some forms FMLA violations can take include:
- Your employer requires more notice than is legal or reasonable – Under the law, you must notify your employer of your absence at least 30 days before your leave unless you have an emergency that makes your absence unforeseeable. And, emergencies are common. If your employer requires more time or does not offer flexibility in cases of emergencies, that requirement may not be legal. Additionally, if you are approved for intermittent FMLA, your employer may impermissibly require excessive notice for your intermittent absences.
- Your employer expects you to be available while on leave – While you are on leave, you have a right to focus on the health of your loved one. An employer that wants you to work during your time away or asks you to be in contact during leave is violating your rights. Further, if you do perform even limited duties while on FMLA, you are entitled to compensation.
- Your employer punishes you for taking leave – You have a right to take leave to care for your family, and your employer cannot legally deny you a promotion, fire you, hold you to quotas or goals which have not been adjusted to account for your absence, or discipline you for taking that leave. Illegal retaliation may also take subtler forms like harassment in the workplace.
FMLA violations can also take other forms, and you may want to discuss your experience with an attorney to determine whether your employer violated your right to family medical leave.
What can you do if your employer violated your rights?
If your employer does not treat you fairly after you request FMLA leave, reporting an issue to your employer may allow you to resolve the issue without taking legal action. However, you should also explore your legal options. Filing a complaint or a lawsuit could offer important protections if your employer does not respond appropriately to this violation of your rights. In Wisconsin, FMLA claims are treated somewhat differently than other discrimination claims in terms of timing, so do not hesitate to call legal counsel as early as possible when an FMLA issue arises. Often a knowledgeable attorney can contact the employer and mutually solve FMLA issues quickly; other times federal court litigation can ensue.
By understanding your rights and pushing back against mistreatment, you can protect your career and ensure that you have the time you need to support your health or your covered family member.