How do you know if you have a claim for FMLA retaliation?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles individuals to take time away from work to care for their own health needs and the needs of their family members without fear of losing their job. The law also prohibits employers in Louisiana from retaliating against employees who take this protected leave.

The law clearly prohibits employers from retaliating against employees in any way for requesting or taking FMLA leave, including demotions, transfers or termination. The practical application of this law is not quite so clear. Employers rarely admit to retaliation by listing FMLA leave as the reason for adverse employment action. Employers often claim legitimate reasons as a pretext for FMLA retaliation, like poor performance.

Here are a few questions that can help you know if you may have a claim for FMLA retaliation:

  • Did the adverse employment action occur shortly after you submitted a request for FMLA leave or shortly after you returned to work?
  • Was your FMLA leave request denied?
  • Did you have to wait more than two days before you were reinstated to your job?
  • Were you reinstated to a lesser job?
  • Were your benefits reduced upon your return?
  • Were your job duties the same or limited?
  • Were your hours reduced after taking leave?
  • Were you harassed about your illness or the time you took off?

The law and practical fact patterns complicate FMLA claims based on discrimination or retaliation. If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may have a claim for damages. It is crucial you discuss your situation with an attorney experienced in this area of law before you dismiss your case.

Source: DOL.gov, "Fact Sheet #77B: Protection for Individuals under the FMLA," Accessed March 20, 2015

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