What is Considered FMLA Harassment?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects workers across the country. Unfortunately, not all employers abide by it. Do you know what is considered FMLA harassment? There are multiple ways that a bullying employer can harass an employee.
If you believe you are dealing with FMLA harassment, an employment law attorney can help.
The 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 Harassment
Employers 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.
You 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
The materials, documentation, and composition of your report are all critical to the success of your case. That is why it is recommended to work with a legal expert in the field of employment law.
There are statutes of limitations to file FMLA harassment, so it is important to not delay contacting an employee rights attorney.
Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. – Fighting for the Rights of Employees Across Florida
We care about Florida workers and their families and fight aggressively for your employee rights. The situations detailing what is considered FMLA harassment, unfortunately, happens all too often. It is our job to fight for your employee rights, and at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we work diligently every step of the way to help you and your family get through this difficult time — propelling you forward into a better future.
If you believe you have been the subject of FMLA harassment, contact our office today to set up a free, confidential consultation. Our firm has deep expertise and experience helping thousands of employees across the state of Florida.
With offices in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, and West Palm Beach, we are here for you.
You deserve an employment law attorney who will stand up for the rights of employees, holding employers accountable for FMLA harassment.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.