Taking leave under the FMLA, when your employer is whining more than the new baby…..

“It is neither fair nor necessary to ask working Americans to choose between their jobs and their families—between continuing their employment and tending to their own health or to vital needs at home.”

– – – President William J. Clinton

 

When you take leave under the Family & Medical Leave Act, it’s likely a difficult time for you, as even the best of reasons to take FMLA, like welcoming a new baby, are still STRESSFUL.  The last thing you need is to worry about your employer targeting you (retaliating against you) for taking time off, or even planning to take time off.  Your employer whining more than your baby is no way to work.

 

Your employer may be interfering with your ability to take leave in the first place.  Some examples of this would be refusing to provide you with notice of your rights under the FMLA when you let your employer know you needed leave, pressuring you to not take leave, to delay your leave, to shorten your leave, or suddenly finding fault (nitpicking) with your performance at work, especially when they found your performance to be just fine prior to asking for leave.  If Friendly Boss turns into You Can’t Do Anything Right Boss, it may be time to hop on the phone and call your Friendly Employment Attorney.

 

Employees who take intermittent leave (as needed) are often targeted by employers.  This can take the form of criticizing your work performance unfairly, making comments that you are somehow lying about your need for intermittent leave, pressuring you not to take the leave, and holding you to a higher standard than other employees.  When a supervisor starts to ask you questions about your health condition, though it has already been approved through your company for intermittent leave, you have to start wondering about this piece of paper taped to your back and why it has a target on it.

 

Retaliation can also occur after you return from full-time leave. The Family & Medical Leave Act requires that upon your return you must be restored to your position or an equivalent position. There is no guarantee your exact position will be open, in your same spot, in your same department.  You may be experiencing retaliation if you return to find that you have been demoted, you are being paid less because of a new position, you are being given lower quality work, you are being given an impossible work load, you are being nitpicked and unfairly written up, or you are no longer being considered for a promotion that you qualified for prior to your leave.  You don’t have to believe that your employer is an Evil Overlord for them to be violating your FMLA rights, even decent employers sometimes have members of management or human resources that are just given too much leeway to make bad decisions.  But, the employer is still responsible for those decisions by those individuals that violate your rights.

 

The point is that if your employer is suddenly finding some way to treat you badly when you have just stated that you intend to take leave, you are close to returning from leave, you have recently returned from leave, or you are attempting to use your intermittent leave, you may be experiencing illegal retaliation under the FMLA. Contact an employment law attorney who may be able to help you.  You are already experiencing normal stress from having to take leave, don’t let your employer get away with stressing you out, too.

You, too? Concrete examples to help you figure out if you are being sexually harassed

“We need to turn the question around to look at the harasser, not the target. We need to be sure that we can go out and look anyone who is a victim of harassment in the eye and say, ‘You do not have to remain silent anymore.’”

– – Anita Hill

Sexual harassment in the workplace, at its heart, is not about sex, it’s about work. It’s about the right to do your job without worrying about being targeted based on your gender. Freedom to do your job means not having to experience sexual attention that is unwanted.  Many people don’t know when they are experiencing harassment, they just feel like someone is acting in a way that’s just wrong for the workplace. Not everyone understands the in’s and out’s of sexual harassment like an employment lawyer does. Below are some real examples of sexual harassment to help you figure out your situation:

* Making sexual gestures, or displaying sexually suggestive pictures, cartoons, posters, calendars or websites. Also ambushing you with graphic pictures or videos on a mobile phone is not okay. The coworker down the hall, the supervisor filling out your review, or the owner writing your paycheck have absolutely no right to make you look at sexually graphic imagery, point blank.

* Making derogatory comments, slurs, or jokes of a sexual nature, graphic commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, suggestive or obscene communications. Most people know where the line is, unless they have been getting away with bad conduct for a long time. In any case, the smart employee, manager, or owner never approaches the line with a sexual joke or name calling using disgusting sexual labels. Commenting on how good an employee’s behind looks in a new pair of jeans isn’t just uncalled for, it may be part of a course of harassing conduct.

* Verbal sexual advances or propositions. This should be an easy one for people never to violate in the workplace, right? Nope, employees represented by McCarty Legal have experienced situations like being told that they would be in danger of losing their job if they didn’t have sex with an owner; being cornered at work and sexually assaulted by being grabbed, groped, or actually raped; being asked out on dates again and again, and then receiving an undeserved cut in hours, disciplinary notice, or a bad review. Sometimes employees are instead offered rewards for engaging in sexual behavior. The propositions can be made outright or suggested in a way that while not blatant, is still easily understood. The stories unfortunately do not end, but if you are reading this, you are informing yourself, and you should be proud for standing against being victimized. Be aware that when this happens to you, it is unlikely that it hasn’t happened to other employees working for or with the same person.

* Unnecessary touching, patting, hugging, or brushing against a person’s body. It’s truly unfortunate how common this is in the workplace, often being passed off as just being “friendly.” If it makes you uncomfortable, it’s time for your overly friendly coworker or supervisor to stop immediately, or better yet, to understand that the workplace is meant to be about work, not about fulfilling their need for physical contact.

* Remarks about sexual activity or speculations about previous sexual experience. When the boss starts talking about how his or her ex did or didn’t do certain things in bed, or makes knowing comments about how your date last night must have ended there, this is so very far from appropriate and may be harassment. There are so many types of comments that fall under this category, but almost all of them make you ask one of two questions: How is this my business? Or, How is this your business?

These are not all of the ways in which sexual harassment can occur. If you feel like you have been experiencing unwanted sexual behavior, take control of what is happening and contact an attorney to stand with you.  Contact McCarty Legal for a free consultation, we’ve heard the stories of employees throughout Kentucky, and we want to hear yours.