Since its implementation, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has helped workers maintain a healthier balance between their personal lives and their professional responsibilities. People can take time off of work even if they don’t have or have already exhausted their paid leave.
The FMLA applies to many workers based on their employment history and the size of the company where they work. It allows a worker to take typically 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they have a medical issue that requires care, if they need to provide care for an immediate family member or if they have a new child.
Unfortunately, while the law may grant a worker the right to take unpaid leave, sometimes their employers will unfairly retaliate against them for doing so. How do businesses punish those who make use of their FMLA rights?
They transfer the worker to a different job
Technically, the FMLA protects a worker’s right to take unpaid leave and then return to the same position or a similar one with the same compensation. However, when employers have to bring in temporary help to fill a position, they may decide to move the worker to a different role permanently.
As long as the role offers similar pay and a comparable role of the company, doing so may not be an issue. However, employers often effectively demote workers when they return from unpaid leave. The worker shouldn’t have to change their schedule or accept lower pay or a lesser title just for asking for leave.
They make returning to work difficult
New parents and those still recovering from a major surgery may require some accommodations on their first days back at work.
Some companies may start writing workers up for every minor infraction, such as taking too long in the bathroom or receiving a personal call at work. Others will have a more hostile attitude toward that employee and will simply make their experience so uncomfortable that they begin seeking alternate employment.
Workers who face punishment or retaliation after exercising a federally protected right may have grounds to bring a claim against their employer. Learning more about employment law issues and how they manifest as discrimination in the workplace can help those who believe they have endured misconduct on the job.