Can my employer retaliate against me for taking FMLA leave?

the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for certain medical and family-related reasons. The FMLA provides job protection, meaning that employers are generally prohibited from retaliating against employees for taking FMLA leave.

Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for exercising their rights under the FMLA. Adverse actions can include termination, demotion, reduction in hours, denial of benefits, or any other negative employment action that could deter an employee from taking FMLA leave.

It is important to note that the FMLA does not provide absolute protection against all adverse employment actions. If an employee engages in misconduct or violates company policies unrelated to their FMLA leave, an employer may take appropriate disciplinary action. However, employers must be cautious to ensure that any adverse action taken against an employee is not in retaliation for taking FMLA leave.

To establish a claim of FMLA retaliation, an employee must demonstrate the following

They engaged in a protected activity

This means the employee took FMLA leave for a qualifying reason, such as their own serious health condition, the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Adverse employment action

The employee must show that their employer took some form of adverse action against them, such as termination, demotion, or denial of benefits.

Causal connection

The employee must establish a causal connection between their protected activity (taking FMLA leave) and the adverse employment action. This can be done by showing that the adverse action occurred shortly after the employee’s FMLA leave or by providing evidence of statements or actions by the employer indicating retaliation.

If an employee can establish these elements, they may be entitled to remedies such as reinstatement, back pay, front pay, and other damages.