The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is vital in protecting employees who need time off for medical or family-related reasons. Unfortunately, despite the safeguards provided by the FMLA, employees remain exposed to employers’ unlawful retaliation for taking FMLA leave. Below, we’ll explore how to recognize potential signs of FMLA retaliation and discuss strategies for addressing such situations.
Signs of Potential FMLA Retaliation and Harassment:
1. Adverse Employment Actions:
Watch out for sudden changes in your role shortly after returning from FMLA leave. These might include actions such as a demotion, suspension, poor evaluations, reduction in hours, pay, or scope of work, being assigned to perform less desirable duties, or even termination.
2. Unjustified Discipline:
Be wary of unwarranted disciplinary actions and sudden over-scrutiny. If you notice a sudden increase in hostility and subsequent write-ups or penalties, this could be a sign of FMLA retaliation.
3. Denial of Benefits or Opportunities:
Retaliation can manifest in the denial of benefits or opportunities that you would have otherwise been entitled to. This may include promotions, raises, educational benefits, or training opportunities that seem to be suddenly or inexplicably withheld. Where an employer demands that you
4. Exclusion & Deterrence:
Pay attention to changes in communication. If you were once included in important meetings or decision-making processes and are suddenly excluded, it might be a sign of retaliation. Being required to provide your employer with unreasonable notice in advance of taking leave, being asked to delay your leave, or being required to work while on leave can be indicia of harassment and retaliation.
What to Do if You Suspect FMLA Retaliation:
If you suspect FMLA retaliation or harassment, schedule a meeting with one of our Austin employment lawyers. We can provide guidance on your rights and possible avenues for relief.
Know Your Rights:
Familiarize yourself with FMLA regulations and your rights as an employee. Being informed empowers you to advocate for yourself and can serve as a deterrent against potential retaliation.
Know that covered FMLA leave includes:
Serious Health Conditions:
Employees can take FMLA leave for their own serious health condition. This includes illnesses, injuries, or impairments that may require inpatient care or continuing treatment by a healthcare provider.
Birth and Care of a Newborn:
FMLA allows eligible employees to take leave for the birth of a child and to bond with the newborn within one year of birth.
Adoption or Foster Care Placement:
Employees can take FMLA leave for the placement of a child through adoption or foster care. This includes time to bond with the newly placed child within one year of placement.
Care for a Spouse, Child, or Parent with a Serious Health Condition:
Eligible employees can take FMLA leave to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition. This includes providing care, support, or assistance during the family member’s medical treatment or recovery.
Qualifying Exigency Leave:
FMLA provides for leave for qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty” or has been notified of an impending call to “covered active duty” in the Armed Forces.
Military Caregiver Leave:
Eligible employees can take FMLA leave to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness. This includes the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member.
FMLA retaliation and harassment are serious workplace issues that can have profound consequences on your professional life. By being aware of the signs, understanding your rights, and taking proactive steps to get help, you will be better equipped to protect yourself from unlawful retaliation and harassment.