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Were you punished for taking medical leave?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | Employment Law - Employees

Some employees have benefit packages from their employers that include paid leave benefits. Workers can request time away from work to take a vacation or recover from a medical issue while receiving their wages if they follow company policies.

Many employees do not receive paid leave benefits, and even those who do may not have adequate benefits to protect them if they experience a serious medical challenge. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles certain employees to take leave in specific scenarios.

Someone who has worked for a company for at least a year might qualify for unpaid leave under the FMLA if the company has at least 50 employees. Workers sometimes request unpaid leave to recover from medical issues, only to lose their employment – or suffer other kinds of adverse action – as a result. What happens if a company fires or otherwise punishes a worker for taking legally-protected unpaid medical leave?

The FMLA prohibits retaliation

Businesses require reliable staffing to operate efficiently and generate profits. However, employees should not have to worry about choosing between their health and their employment when they face medical challenges.

The FMLA protects someone’s right to request leave and also their right to return to work after they recover. Whether they had an illness or recently had a baby, a worker could qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the FMLA. They should be able to return to the same position or a comparable one with the same pay and benefits.

The FMLA prohibits employers from firing, demoting or otherwise retaliating against employees who require leave due to medical issues. Sadly, some employers hope that workers never return after taking unpaid leave. This is particularly true when new mothers try to return after taking maternity leave using the FMLA.

The company may have moved someone else into the position and may fabricate a justification for terminating or demoting the worker who took unpaid leave. Those who experience retaliation when engaging in protected workplace activities, like taking FMLA leave, can fight back.

Filing a lawsuit is a reasonable reaction to an FMLA violation, like a reactionary firing. Workers who know their rights may have an easier time standing up for themselves when companies retaliate against them after they take protected leave.

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