The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, allows certain employees to take 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth or adoption of a child, a serious medical condition or a family member's serious medical condition. The FMLA applies to public employers and private employers with more than 50 employees. Employers can violate the FMLA by refusing to grant time off, failing to restore the employee to his or her original or equivalent position after leave or by discontinuing benefits during leave. Employee have different options for reporting FMLA violations.
Register a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. The FMLA is regulated and enforced by the Department of Labor. You can file a complaint regarding a suspected FMLA violation with the Department of Labor in person, over the telephone or by letter. The department does not require any specific form of complaint, just a statement of the perceived FMLA violations. The Department of Labor will then investigate your complaint and issue a ruling.
Inform your union (if applicable) of any suspected violations. If you are a union worker, you may have additional rights under your collective bargaining agreement. Union contracts often provide additional or greater rights than the federal FMLA laws. Accordingly, report any potential FMLA violations to your union representative for assistance.
File a lawsuit against your employer. You may also be able to file a lawsuit against your employer in state or federal court for FMLA violations. In general, federal and private employees have a private right of action for violations of the FMLA. Plaintiffs awarded monetary damages as a result of the FMLA violation may be entitled to double damages.
Consult with an employment law attorney regarding any additional recourse you may have. FMLA regulations are constantly evolving, and employee remedies for violations may also depend on workers' compensation statutes or state leave laws. Employees should consult an experienced employment law attorney in their state for assistance in reporting FMLA violations.
Document everything. To support a claim for an FMLA violation, document all contact between you and your employer regarding your request and need for FMLA leave. Keep copies of all correspondence, including letters and emails. Request that your employer explain their refusal of leave, or other denial of FMLA benefits, in writing.
- Remember that you have two years to file an FMLA complaint or three years if the violation is deemed to be willful.
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