Signs Your Employer Is Violating Your FMLA Rights in California

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits eligible employees unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

The FMLA allows qualifying employees approximately 12 weeks of unpaid time.

During leave, the FMLA requires employers to continue the employee’s health insurance coverage.

Employers must also allow employees to return to their jobs with no repercussions.

Violations of FMLA by employers include taking action to prevent an employee from exercising their FMLA rights or retaliating against an employee for exercising their rights.

Retaliation can include firing someone, demoting them, changing their working conditions, treating them differently from other employees, and more.

Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against anyone who takes action to enforce their FMLA rights or aids an investigation of an FMLA violation. 

FLMA violations, unfortunately, are not as rare as they should be, and many employees find their employers make it difficult for them to take the leave the FMLA entitles them to or return to work once they’ve taken leave. 

If you believe your FMLA rights have been violated, contact a California employment attorney at Ottinger Employment Lawyers today.

Specific Examples of FMLA Violations by Employers 

1. Your Employer Demands You Give an Inappropriate Amount of Notice

Under the FMLA, when you need to take leave due to something foreseeable, the law instructs that you give your employer 30 days’ notice.

If it’s not foreseeable, you need to give notice as soon as practicable under the circumstances. Unfortunately, employers sometimes break the 30-day rule by requiring an employee to give more notice than 30 days’ notice.

Or they use the 30-day rule to deny emergency FMLA leave even though it was not reasonably foreseeable.

2. Your Employer Doesn’t Recognize Your Request

The FMLA does not require you to use the term “FMLA” when requesting FMLA leave. An employer should know to look at your request and discern how to categorize your leave based on the circumstances.

Violations of FMLA by employers include implying you didn’t make the “right” FMLA request.

3. Your Employer Denies or Delays Your Request

Your employer may request that you schedule FMLA to leave at times that aren’t as disruptive to your job.

But if your physician tells you that you need treatment in a week, it’s wrong for your employer to request that you delay that treatment because they don’t like the timing.

4. Your Employer Requires You to Work While on Leave

Your employer should not ask you to work from home or ask to you be available while on FMLA leave, even if it’s only for a limited number of hours each week.

Emergencies make it difficult for you to perform as expected. For this reason, when employees who have been fired for “performance issues” while on leave go to court, juries often find FMLA violations by employers.

5. Your Employer Disciplines You or Retaliates for Taking FMLA Leave

You cannot be fired for taking FMLA leave. But your employer may try to discipline you for being absent.

Verbal abuses upon return from leave or indications your leave is a mark against you when seeking promotion are signs of FMLA violations by employers.

6. Your Employer Makes It Difficult to Take Intermittent Leave

Under the FMLA you can take leave in one large sum or take “intermittent leave,” where you scale back the number of hours or days you work per week.

While on intermittent leave, if your employer demotes you or loads you up with more work than is reasonable to accomplish within specified hours, your FMLA rights have been violated and you should contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible.

7. Your Employer Doesn’t Reinstate You at Your Previous Level

When you return to work after leave, the FMLA requires your employer to restore your previous job or assign you to an equivalent position.

Everything, including your job duties, location, benefits, and pay, should be the same as or equivalent to what it was before you left.

Penalties for Violating FMLA Regulations

If you violate the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations, you may face the following penalties:

  • Payment of Actual Damages: This includes compensation for any losses suffered by the complainant, such as back pay, front pay for lost future wages, and other related expenses.
  • Compensatory Damages: These cover the emotional impact on the complainant, including pain, suffering, humiliation, and embarrassment.
  • Punitive Damages: Additional fines may be imposed as a deterrent for violating FMLA regulations.
  • Attorneys’ Fees and Costs: You may be required to cover the legal expenses of the complainant, including attorney fees and court costs.
  • Employee Training: Conduct training sessions for all employees, supervisors, and management to ensure compliance with FMLA regulations and internal grievance procedures.
  • Expert Witness Fees: Payment of fees to expert witnesses in favor of the prevailing party.
  • Ensure compliance with FMLA regulations to avoid these penalties and uphold the rights of employees.

What to Do If You Suspect Your FMLA Rights Are Being Violated

Violations of FMLA by employers involve statutory time limitations that dictate exactly how long you have to file a claim.

If you believe your rights are being violated, call Ottinger Employment Lawyers at 213-204-8002 or contact us online. We have defended the rights of workers throughout California for over twenty years.

As one of the country’s top boutique employment law firms, we are devoted to helping employees in difficult employment situations.

Author Photo

Robert Ottinger, Esq.

Robert Ottinger is an employment attorney who focuses on representing executives and employees in employment disputes. Before starting his firm, Robert slugged it out in courtrooms trying cases for the government. Robert served as a Deputy Attorney General for the California Department of Justice in Los Angeles and then as Assistant Attorney General for the New York Attorney General’s Office in Manhattan.