A Guide to FMLA Violations and What to Do If You Are Affected

Award-Winning California Employment Law Firm Since 2012
On Behalf of Law Offices of Eric A. Boyajian | May 18, 2023 FMLA Violations

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a crucial piece of legislation that provides certain employees with job-protected leave for qualifying family and medical reasons. While FMLA offers valuable protection, it’s essential to be aware of the possibility of FMLA violations that can occur in the workplace. In this guide, we’ll explore what an FMLA violation is, the rights of employees under FMLA, and the steps you should take if you believe you have been affected by an FMLA violation.

What is an FMLA Violation?

An FMLA violation refers to any actions taken by an employer that infringe upon an employee’s rights under FMLA. These violations can take various forms, including:

  • Denying leave eligibility: An FMLA violation can occur when an employer wrongfully denies an employee’s request for FMLA leave, either by misclassifying the employee as ineligible or by not recognizing a qualifying condition.
  • Interfering with leave rights: Employers might unlawfully interfere with an employee’s right to take FMLA leave by discouraging or dissuading them from taking leave, refusing to restore their position upon their return, or pressuring them to return to work early.
  • Retaliation: Retaliation is a serious violation that occurs when an employer takes adverse actions against an employee for exercising their FMLA rights. Such actions may include termination, denial of promotions, demotion, or hostile treatment.

Understanding Your Rights as an Employee

As an employee covered by FMLA, it’s important to understand your rights and protections. These are as follows:

  • Eligibility: To be eligible, you must work for a covered employer for at least twelve months. You must have worked no less than 1,250 hours over the last year. Plus, you must also work at a location with at least fifty employees within a 75-mile radius.
  • Qualifying reasons: FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for various reasons, including the birth or adoption of a child, a serious health condition, or caring for a seriously ill family member.
  • Notice and documentation: When requesting FMLA leave, employees are required to provide their employers with sufficient notice and appropriate documentation, such as medical certifications.

What to Do if You Suspect an FMLA Violation

If you believe that your employee rights under FMLA have been violated, it is crucial to take appropriate steps to address the situation.

  1. Gather documentation: Collect any relevant documents, including timesheets, emails, and medical records, to support your claim of FMLA violation. These documents will serve as evidence later.
  2. Consult an employment attorney: Seek the advice of an experienced employment attorney who specializes in FMLA violations. Our experienced attorneys will be able to evaluate your case, explain your rights, and guide you throughout the legal process.
  3. File a complaint: If you have substantial evidence of an FMLA violation, you can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of your state’s labor agency or the U.S. Department of Labor.
  4. Maintain detailed records: Keep a record of all interactions related to the FMLA violation, including dates and times, individuals involved, and any relevant details. This documentation will help strengthen your case.
  5. Pursue legal action: In some cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against your employer to seek compensation for the FMLA violation. Your attorney will guide you through the litigation process, advocate for your rights, and represent you in negotiations.

Possible Outcomes

Several outcomes and remedies are possible when addressing an FMLA violation. These include:

  • Reinstatement: If you were terminated or demoted unlawfully, one possible outcome is to seek reinstatement to your previous position or a comparable one with the same pay, benefits, and seniority.
  • Compensation: You may be entitled to receive back pay for lost wages and benefits resulting from the FMLA violation. This can include any financial losses incurred due to the violation.
  • Injunctive relief: In some cases, you may be granted injunctive relief by a court. This requires your employer to cease any unlawful conduct, comply with FMLA regulations, or implement policies to prevent violations in the future.
  • Compensatory damages: If you suffered emotional distress or other harm because of the FMLA violation, you may be eligible for compensatory damages to address those losses.
  • Punitive damages: In cases where the employer’s actions were willful or malicious, punitive damages may be awarded.

Preventing FMLA Violations

While it’s important for employees to understand their rights, and to take action if you believe that your FMLA rights have been violated, prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips for employers and employees to ensure compliance with FMLA regulations.

  • Educate managers and HR personnel: Provide comprehensive training to managers and human resources employees regarding FMLA regulations, including eligibility requirements, qualifying reasons for leave, and the correct procedures for handling leave requests.
  • Implement clear policies: Employers should develop and disseminate clear FMLA policies and procedures within the organization. Policies should clearly outline employee rights, obligations, and the process for requesting and taking FMLA leave.
  • Maintain accurate records: Employers should keep detailed records of employee leave requests, certifications, and any other communications related to FMLA leave. This will help ensure compliance and serve as evidence in the event of disputes.
  • Communicate openly: Open and transparent communication between employees, supervisors and managers should be encouraged when it comes to FMLA rights and leave requests. This can help address concerns or misunderstandings, preventing them from escalating into violations.
  • Regular auditing and compliance checks: Employers should conduct periodic checks to ensure FMLA regulations compliance. Review leave records, documentation, and processes and identify any areas of potential non-compliance and take corrective actions as soon as possible.

FMLA violations can have significant consequences for employees, impacting their job security, financial health, and overall wellbeing. If you suspect an FMLA violation in your workplace, we are here to help. Whether you have lost your job as a result or are suffering other workplace problems such as demotion or a hostile environment, contact the Law Offices of Eric J. Boyajian for personalized guidance, assistance, and representation. Whether your aim is reinstatement or compensation, we’re dedicated to helping you get the best outcome. Contact us today:

450 N Brand Blvd #613, Glendale, CA 91203

Call us today for a free consultation, on (818) 839-5969.