The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides many employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. They can use this leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the failing health of another family member or their own health. While this law was enacted to protect the interests of employees, there are certain actions that both employers and employees cannot legally take under FMLA rules.
The employment law attorneys at Barrett & Farahany have seen many cases where employers and employees have engaged in illegal actions related to FMLA, both knowingly and unknowingly. We can explain these actions so you can better avoid accidentally committing an illegal action and can better recognize an employer’s illegal actions.
Illegal Actions by Employers
Under FMLA, employers are prohibited from taking certain actions against employees who exercise their rights to take leave for qualifying reasons. These include:
- Interfering with, restraining, or denying an employee’s right to take FMLA leave. This can include pressuring the employee not to take their leave, discouraging them from taking leave, or even preventing them from accessing necessary forms and information so that they can take FMLA leave.
- Discriminating or retaliating against an employee for taking FMLA leave: Employers cannot use an employee’s FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions such as hiring, promotions, or disciplinary measures. They also cannot retaliate against an employee for taking FMLA leave by firing them or subjecting them to adverse working conditions upon their return. This does not protect employees from company-wide layoffs.
- Failing to provide proper notice or information about FMLA rights and responsibilities: Employers are required to inform employees of their rights and responsibilities under FMLA when they become eligible for leave. This is important because employees are not automatically eligible for leave. For example, part-time employees are not eligible for FMLA leave. This includes providing them with written notice and a copy of the company’s FMLA policy.
- Refusing to grant proper FMLA leave or requesting unnecessary documentation: Employers cannot deny an employee’s properly requested FMLA leave, nor can they request more documentation than what is required by law.
Illegal Actions by Employees
While FMLA is meant to protect employees, there are certain actions that employees can take that are considered illegal. These include:
- Falsifying information to obtain FMLA leave: Employees who provide false or fraudulent information to utilize FMLA leave are breaking the law. They may face consequences for this, such as termination of employment.
- Abusing FMLA leave: Employees who misuse or abuse FMLA leave, such as taking leave for reasons that do not qualify under the law, may face termination.
- Failing to follow proper procedures for requesting FMLA leave: While employers cannot request unnecessary documentation, employees are still required to provide certain information when requesting FMLA leave. Failure to do so can result in disciplinary action.
Contact the Employment Law Attorneys at Barrett & Farahany
Both employers and employees need to understand their rights and responsibilities under the FMLA. If you do something incorrectly, not only can your FMLA be legally denied, but you can be punished, potentially with termination. At the same time, you also want to be aware of what your employer could be doing to affect your ability to receive FMLA benefits.
As employment law attorneys, we at Barrett & Farahany can help employees understand if they’re the victim of an employer abusing FMLA, or if they are potentially breaking FMLA rules. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the FMLA, do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation.