Have you recently given birth, only to return to work and find your position no longer available or that you have been demoted? Perhaps you are the caretaker of an elderly parent who is facing serious health complications. In either scenario, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects eligible employees from being fired or losing their health benefits under various circumstances, including the birth or adoption of a child, personal medical reasons, and to care for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition.
If you qualify for an FMLA-protected leave of absence, you may take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid time off within a 12-month period. Eligible employees who are the spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of a covered military service-member may take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave during a single 12-month period to care for the service-member who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on active duty.
After your leave ends and you return to work you are entitled to the same or equivalent position with equal pay and benefits, assuming you are able to perform the essential functions of the job. Denial of your former job or a demotion should not be tolerated.
If you feel like your rights under FMLA have been violated, you may have a claim of interference or retaliation against your employer.
What is an Interference Claim?
An interference claim arises when your employer somehow interferes with your protected leave of absence. To obtain damages, you must be an eligible employee of a qualifying employer, as defined by the statute. You must show that you were entitled to an FMLA-protected leave of absence, provided notice of your intention to take a leave of absence, and your employer denied you benefit that you were entitled to receive.
What is a Retaliation Claim?
An employee who is retaliated against for exercising a right under FMLA must show that he or she was engaged in statutorily protected conduct and suffered an adverse employment action because of that conduct. Acts of retaliation may include your employer’s refusal to reinstate your position or a demotion of responsibilities and pay. If retaliation is found, your employer must offer a legitimate lawful reason for taking the adverse employment action against you.
If my rights under FMLA have been violated, what damages are available?
An employee may sue an employer for the amount of wages, salary, employment benefits, or other form of compensation denied or lost. Alternatively, you may recover any actual monetary loss directly attributable to your employer’s violation of FMLA, such as cost of providing care during a protected leave of absence. Equitable relief such as pay raises, reinstatement, or a promotion may also be appropriate. Other potential damages include an award of interest for the amount determined, liquidated damages, reasonable attorney fees, expert witness fees, and other court costs, to be paid by your employer.
The attorneys at Abney & McCarty frequently handle cases related to FMLA. We will aggressively advocate for your lost or denied employment benefits and seek complete compensation for your claim.