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Protect Your FMLA Rights from Employer Retaliation

Guha Law May 27, 2022

California workers appreciate the benefits of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The act is a federal law that provides unpaid time off for workers or their qualifying family member with medical conditions. Employers cannot refuse time off for valid FMLA claims. Employees should read and understand what FMLA covers and what is not covered.

What Is FMLA and Retaliation?

FMLA provides qualified employees with job protection during certain extended medical circumstances. Your employer likely furnished you with a handbook that explained FMLA at orientation. Communication is the most effective way to handle Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requests.

Notifying your employer promptly, if possible, allows for preparation during your absence. There are times when medical leave is unplanned, so notification as soon as possible is helpful. If your employer takes prohibitive actions to deny your FMLA, that is retaliation and is against the law.

Prohibitive Retaliatory Employer Actions Regarding FMLA

FMLA and retaliation issues occur when employers attempt to circumvent the law by threatening, harassing, or terminating employees for using medical leave. Some employers will attempt to use “at-will” hiring practices to terminate employees using FMLA. Employees have the right to act if they think their Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rights have been violated.

The following list contains prohibited actions that employers should not take against employees requesting or accessing FMLA leave:

  • Interference, restraining, or denying FMLA rights

  • Discouraging FMLA leave

  • Manipulating an employee’s work hours to avoid FMLA obligations

  • Discriminating or harassing an employee for requesting FMLA leave.

  • Using FMLA to deny promotions or raises or to demote or reduce pay rate

Some prohibitive actions can be subtle or openly threatening. Your employer might suggest that taking FMLA could affect a promotion coming up during your time away. Your employer could threaten to give your job to another coworker and demote you.

These actions and others are unlawful, and the FMLA makes it clear. You have options if you feel that an employer has violated these laws.