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Can employers punish workers for their FMLA leave requests?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Employment Law |

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) established a crucial right for modern workers. Specifically, the FMLA permits employees in certain circumstances to request unpaid leave from their work. The FMLA allows workers to prioritize their own health or the needs of their loved ones without risking their careers.

While some companies offer paid leave benefits, not all employees have the opportunity to take time off using vacation time or sick leave. The FMLA offers the option of an extended leave of absence without the loss of one’s job. Most companies in Florida that have 50 or more employees are subject to the rules of the FMLA. Workers who have been with a company for at least a year and put in a minimum amount of hours at the organization can request unpaid leave in certain circumstances.

When is FMLA leave an option?

There are generally three types of situations that may justify time away from work under the FMLA. The first is when someone has a personal medical issue. Someone who needs to undergo treatment or recover from an injury can request an unpaid leave of absence. Unpaid leave is also available to those who have family members in need of support. The FMLA applies when someone needs to support a spouse, parent or child with medical challenges. Finally, the FMLA offers leave for those who have had a baby, adopted a child or obtained foster placement of a child.

How the FMLA helps workers

Not only does the FMLA provide the right to request unpaid leave, but it also prohibits employers from punishing or retaliating against those who make use of that right. A worker who takes up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in accordance with the FMLA should be able to return to the same position or a comparable one without any negative career consequences.

Employers are not permitted to demote a worker, offer them fewer job opportunities or otherwise treat them negatively because they have requested unpaid leave under the FMLA. Unfortunately, some workers do experience retaliation from employers when they assert their employment rights. Learning about crucial workplace protections can help people better identify when a violation of their rights occurs. Seeking legal guidance can help them to seek recourse accordingly.