Discrimination and retaliation based on FMLA leave

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Employee Rights |

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. This includes up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth and care of a newborn child, the adoption or foster care placement of a child, the serious health condition of the employee or an immediate family member or specific difficulties arising from a family member’s military service.

The FMLA intends to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons without fear of losing their jobs. Despite its benefits and protections, implementing FMLA leave can sometimes lead to discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.

Discrimination based on FMLA leave

Discrimination related to FMLA leave can occur when employers treat employees differently or less favorably because they have requested or taken FMLA leave. This can include demotions, denial of advancement opportunities or exclusion from training and development activities. Discrimination might not always be obvious. It can manifest through subtle actions, such as assigning less desirable tasks or systematically excluding employees from important meetings or communications, impacting their career progression and work environment.

Retaliation after taking FMLA leave

Retaliation is another serious concern if employers take adverse actions against employees for exercising their FMLA rights. Examples of retaliation include termination, disciplinary actions or creating a hostile work environment to discourage employees from taking FMLA leave. Retaliation affects the individual involved and can create a culture of fear, discouraging others from exercising their rights under the FMLA. It is illegal and goes against the fundamental protections provided by the FMLA, yet it remains a challenge for many employees to navigate their rights to family and medical leave.

Employees must be able to count on FMLA to take time off when a covered situation occurs. If they face discrimination or retaliation, they may take legal action. These cases can become complex, so having a legal representative to assist can be beneficial.