Most people need time off from work occasionally, whether for illness, the need to care for others, or for personal time. Any worker could get sick, have a family member who is sick, or otherwise need to take a day or two to stay home and handle personal affairs. However, some workers who have serious chronic illness or have a family member with such illness may need more time off than others. Fortunately, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the state and local equivalents in many states, help qualifying individuals take that needed time off and maintain their employment — in most cases.
Unfortunately, violations of the FMLA do occur, and workers can suffer as a result. It was recently reported that a worker in another state was reinstated at work after an investigation discovered that the employer had violated the FMLA. Apparently, the worker had taken multiple days off, and the public transit agency for which the person worked added disciplinary attendance points for those missed days. Eventually, the agency dismissed the worker after a certain number of points had accrued for excessive absences.
The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor became involved in the case and conducted an investigation. The investigation found that the transit agency should have considered the employee’s time off as use of FMLA leave. After the violations were uncovered, the agency reinstated the worker and provided nearly $22,000 in back wages.
Using leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the state or D.C. equivalents can prove invaluable to workers in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area who need more time off than usual. If, like the employee in this case, a person is unjustly fired or otherwise penalized for using that leave, it may be necessary to take legal action to rectify the situation. Discussing violations of the FMLA with knowledgeable employment law attorneys could help interested parties fight for their workplace rights to be upheld.