Family and Medical Leave Act
“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 need 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 your asking for leave. If Friendly Boss turns into You Can’t Do Anything Right Boss, it may be time to get 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 for which you qualified 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 employees who are just given too much leeway to make bad decisions. But, the employer is still responsible for those decisions by those individuals when they violate your rights and hurt you.
In short, 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 of your job.