Many workers throughout the U.S. enjoy certain employment benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, workers who chose to utilize their benefits under the FMLA may later find themselves the victims of discrimination by their employers. This discrimination can take on many different forms.

What is FMLA?

Under the FMLA, or Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, covered employers are required to provide eligible employees with job-protecting, unpaid leave for qualified family and medical reasons. Covered employers include employers who have at least 50 employees that work within a 75-mile radius. An employee can become eligible for benefits under the FMLA when they have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months. 

What Are Your Rights Under the FMLA?

The FMLA entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for covered family and medical reasons, including:

  • To care for a new child, whether naturally born to the employee or adopted 
  • To care for a seriously ill family member
  • To recover from a serious illness or medical condition

When an employee takes protected FMLA leave, their employer must hold the employee’s position open for their return. Employees are also entitled to a continuance of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage during a period of FMLA leave. 

Common Examples of FMLA Discrimination by Employers

Unfortunately, some employers who are subject to the FMLA engage in discriminatory behaviors. These behaviors are unlawful under the FMLA. Examples of FMLA discrimination include:

  • Attempting to dissuade an employee from taking FMLA leave
  • Refusing to authorize an eligible employee’s request for FMLA leave
  • Manipulating an employee’s work schedule to prevent them from becoming eligible for FMLA leave

FMLA discrimination also includes taking adverse employment actions against an employee in retaliation for their request or use of FMLA leave. Examples of adverse employment actions or decisions include:

  • Refusing to promote
  • Denying a raise
  • Withdrawing job responsibilities
  • Assigning less-desirable job responsibilities or duty shifts
  • Transferring to less-desirable assignments 
  • Terminating employment

What Legal Options Do You Have When You’ve Been the Victim of FMLA Discrimination?

If you have suffered from FMLA discrimination inflicted by your employer, you may have the option of reporting your employer’s conduct to the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The WHD may investigate your claim, and if it finds that your employer has engaged in FMLA discrimination may take actions such as ordering compliance with the law or imposing fines.

In addition, you may also be entitled to file a legal action against your employer to obtain court-ordered relief from the effects of FMLA discrimination. This relief may include:

  • Having your request for FMLA leave approved
  • Being reinstated to employment or a prior position with your employer
  • Compensation for lost back pay
  • Compensation for lost income if you were wrongfully terminated from your job
  • Reimbursement of expenses incurred to find new employment if you were wrongfully terminated

Contact a Rochelle Park Employment Law Attorney to Discuss Your New Jersey FMLA Discrimination Case

Although New Jersey employment laws are supposed to provide you with protection in the workplace, it is not always easy to get the rights you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable employment lawyer about your situation and get guidance about your rights and options. The experienced employment law attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients in Englewood, Fair Lawn, Fort Lee, Garfield, and all across New Jersey. Call (201) 380-7687 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation about your case. Our main office is located at 340 West Passaic St., Rochelle Park, NJ 07762.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.