FMLA BasicsThe federal government agency which administers the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the Department of Labor. Per their website, “The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.” The FMLA provides eligible employees twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period. It does not all have to be taken at once. To be eligible for the FMLA, you have to have:
- worked for the company for a total of 12 months,
- worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and
- worked at a location within the U.S (or its territories) where at least 50 of its employees are employed within 75 miles
Many employers take actions that violate the rights of eligible employees that amount to FMLA harassment.
Examples of FMLA HarassmentEmployers hold a lot of power against their employees and sometimes wield it in the form of FMLA harassment. They may resent you and retaliate against you for taking time off or may be doing something that is a violation of employment law to save money or increase their profits. There are many signs of FMLA harassment – some more subtle and some more overt. You just have to know how to recognize them. Here are some examples that may constitute FMLA harassment:
- Your boss assigns you a full-time workload on a part-time schedule. You are unable to complete the increased workload. They fire you for not being able to complete the work.
- When you come back to work after taking time off to take care of a sick loved one or to have a baby, you are demoted to a lower-level position.
- You are told that you are no longer eligible for a promotion that you are qualified for according to the parameters/qualifications of the job.
- Your boss gives you additional duties that you did not have prior to taking FMLA, such as requiring you to lift items of 50 lbs. or more.
- Your employer places you in a new position after you come back to work and has given you a reduction in pay.
- You are being prevented from working on key accounts, with certain clients, or have had responsibilities taken away that were previously a part of your position.
Situation #7You are given the “mommy track” or “daddy track” and/or treated differently from your co-workers or being harassed for having a child or taking care of a sick or injured loved one. These seven situations occur across industries and at all levels of employment. This list is not all-encompassing but gives you a good idea of what could be considered FMLA harassment. Whether you work in a blue-collar job or a white-collar job, FMLA harassment can happen to you – but it should never be tolerated, and employers should be held responsible for their illegal actions. If you suspect FMLA harassment at work, contact an employee rights attorney to discuss the details of your case to determine your best legal action moving forward.
How Do I Report a Violation of FMLA?When employers hold FMLA against you, there are steps you can take to resolve and recover from this type of employee rights violation. There are a couple of options to report an FMLA violation. This includes directly filing a report with the Department of Labor or filing a private lawsuit. An employment law attorney will analyze your situation and advise you on the best way to handle it. Whether you file a direct report with the Department of Labor or decide to file a lawsuit, the documentation should be comprehensive to make your case of FMLA harassment as strong as possible. Some of the documentation that is typically used in these types of cases include:
- Employment agreements or contracts – particularly those that contain language referencing medical leave or family leave
- Employee records that include schedules and attendance
- Employee records that contain job titles, job descriptions, and any changes in duties
- Documentation of oral or written harassment such as voicemails, emails, memorandums, texts, or similar information
- Witness statements including those from co-workers, supervisors, and human resources
- Various relevant documentation and evidence helpful to your case