For many of us, our jobs do not provide enough paid sick time to deal with a serious illness to ourselves or a family member that may require an extended absence from work. That is where the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) comes in for workers in Michigan and across the country.
While the law only guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year, it also provides job security, because your employer cannot take action against you from having to leave work. If your employer tries to stop you from using your FMLA leave, or retaliates against you for taking a leave, remember that you have rights.
Who Is Covered Under The FMLA
The FMLA covers all employees at public and private businesses of a certain size, depending on your hours worked and length of service. You can use FMLA leave whenever you have a serious medical condition (including pregnancy-related issues) or you need to care for a relative like a spouse, child, parent or grandparent. You do not have to use all 12 weeks consecutively.
An Example Of FMLA Discrimination
In a recent federal lawsuit in a nearby state, a school district worker alleged that the district interfered with his FMLA leave and retaliated against him.
Due to job-related anxiety, the employee requested FMLA leave to start in a month, giving him time to wrap up his work. His superintendant expressed that she was "frustrated" that his leave was not starting immediately. When the employee returned from work, the district informed him that they were reassigning him due to other performance-related concerns.
While the school district tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, a federal judge ruled that this was sufficient evidence for the lawsuit against the school district to proceed.
You Have Rights
Like in the case above, your employer may not outright deny your use of FMLA leave. However, they may try to find other "performance-related issues" to punish you. Or, your boss may make comments about how they wish you weren't taking leave.
If you have any questions about your rights under the law and using FMLA leave, talk to an experienced employment law attorney today. They can determine if you are the victim of discrimination and what your options are for seeking relief.