Employers are responsible for respecting the rights of employees and adhering to federal, state, and local employment laws. However, there may be times when an employee believes the employer’s actions or the employer’s policies violate the employee’s rights. One of these is the right to take leave for certain types of medical and family-related needs. The Family and Medical Leave Act outlines employers’ responsibilities regarding leave and employees’ eligibility to take this leave.
Violations of an employee’s FMLA rights could be grounds for a civil claim against the employer. This is why it is critical for workers to understand these rights and their employer’s specific leave policies. FMLA harassment and other violations of leave rights are common, yet many employees are reluctant to speak out. If you are suffering from these actions, you do not have to remain silent.
The FMLA rights of employees
The federal FMLA applies to both government employers and private-sector employers with 50 or more employees, and covers employees who have worked at the employer for at least one year, with at least 1,250 hours worked over the past 12 months. State and local FMLA laws may cover smaller employers. The federal FMLA provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without threat of losing their jobs or employment benefits. An employee can take FMLA leave after the birth of a baby, new adoption, new foster placement, medical needs of a loved one and more. Employers cannot retaliate or harass an employee for taking leave. Examples of FMLA harassment include:
- Requiring an employee to provide unreasonable notice before taking leave
- Placing an employee in a different position after he or she takes FMLA leave
- Failure to recognize legitimate FMLA leave
- Requiring workers to work while taking FMLA leave
- Demotion, termination or other types of retaliation after taking FMLA leave
Perceived or blatant harassment over FMLA leave can leave employees unsure of what to do and how to protect their rights. You may benefit from taking steps to understand your legal options and how to hold your employer accountable.
Defending your company
An assessment of your Washington, D.C. area employer’s leave policies and the treatment you received is an appropriate first step. If you are facing repercussions related to FMLA harassment, you are entitled to defend your interests at every step, whether it is negotiations or in court. Complying with federal and state leave laws can be complex, but employers are responsible for adherence to these mandates and protecting the rights of their individual employees.