Protecting Yourself from FMLA Retaliation
A former Wegmans employee sued the grocer in July, claiming violations of harassment and retaliation by her supervisor for electing to use her protected right to Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.
The Family & Medical Leave Act was passed in the United States to protect workers’ rights to leave under limited circumstances, and the right to job protection while on leave. Unfortunately, FMLA retaliation is all too common.
Jordan Hanson Bartman said everything at work was fine, and that she was treated like a valuable staff member until she decided to take FMLA leave. It was around the same time that the Massachusetts store had hired a new general manager.
Delaying FMLA Leave
The first alleged violation occurred after Bartman was in a car accident that required hospitalization. Her mother called the Wegmans supervisor on her behalf to let her know what happened to her daughter, and that Bartman would not be coming into work that day. Bartman was later berated by the supervisor for not calling in herself.
Because of the pain and suffering caused by the accident, Bartman began to increasingly become depressed and anxious. It was intolerable. When she finally asked for FMLA leave again, the store manager delayed approval until after the holiday season, telling Bartman to “suck it up.” The supervisor also warned that Bartman’s leave was becoming a bother to the whole store.
Fired for Persistent Absence
Wegmans Food Markets Inc. demanded that Bartman obtain a physician’s note whenever she took leave, and if she couldn’t come into work she should call at least two hours before the start of her shift. She was eventually fired for “persistent absences, tardiness, and failure to follow procedures.”
Often, employees like Jordan Bartman are either unaware of their rights and fail to recognize their employer’s actions are illegal or fail to act out of fear.
What to Do When You’ve Been Fired for Taking FMLA
The unfortunate events Jordan Bartman experienced could happen to any employee. If you work for a covered employer, and you are eligible for FMLA leave, you have the peace of mind that there are protections against retaliation. If you’ve taken FMLA leave, chances are you’ve already had enough to fret about.
Two ways you can seek a remedy for FMLA retaliation:
- Speak with an employee rights attorney
- Write to the U.S. Department of Labor
If you’ve been wrongfully fired for taking FMLA, the law provides that you can be paid damages. This is payment for any loss, injury, or harm that you suffered as a result of your denial of leave, or any retaliatory action, including a subsequent firing.
Employer discrimination due to your need to take a leave which is protected by the FMLA is wrong. Know you’re not alone – compassionate, determined employment discrimination lawyers are here to help. If you’ve been discriminated against at your current job or fired for taking leave, contact an employee rights attorney today.
Even if you haven’t been fired, an employee rights attorney can assist you with denials and retaliatory actions that include harassment. If your employer aims to “get back at you” for taking FMLA leave, an employment law attorney may be able to help. No one should have to “suck it up.”
Just like all legal matters, it’s essential to speak with an attorney about your specific situation before making any assumptions about the potential outcome.
In clear and basic terms, describe your situation in a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor. Letters can be sent by mail to:
Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington DC 20210
If there’s a Department of Labor close by, you can also address your letter to a local branch or drop in to speak with an agent. When the DOL receives your complaint, they’ll examine your reason for leave and your employer’s position for firing you.
Don’t Wait to Contact an Employment Law Attorney
If you’ve lost your job for taking FMLA leave or have faced retaliation or harassment of any kind by your employer, don’t wait to take action. Protect your rights and contact the employment law attorneys at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. today. We offer a free, confidential consultation and several locations for your convenience.
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