It is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny an employee’s rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate against, discharge, or discriminate against an employee for enforcing his or her rights under the FMLA. There are many different ways that an employer can interfere with an employee’s FMLA rights, or retaliate against an employee for exercising those rights. Because each situation is unique, a free consultation with one of our Ohio employment attorneys will be the best way for an employee to determine whether his or her rights were violated.
The FMLA provides protection for employees in the event an employer retaliates or discriminates against the employees for exercising their rights under the FMLA. Specifically, “an employer is prohibited from discriminating against employees… who have used FMLA leave….” Nor can the employer “use the taking of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions.” 29 C.F.R. §825.220(c). This includes retaliatory termination for taking FMLA leave. If the employer is found to have retaliated against the employee for using FMLA leave, the employer will be liable for compensating the employee for any lost wages, as well as liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees.
Once an employee returns from FMLA leave, the employer is required to return the employee to the same position, or an equivalent position. An equivalent position means a position that is virtually identical to the original job in terms of pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions (including shift and location). If the employee is not returned to a same or similar position, this could be considered both interference with FMLA rights, and retaliation for taking FMLA leave. A single act by the employer can be considered both interference and retaliation under the FMLA.
It is worth noting that most employers are aware of an employee’s rights under the FMLA. Therefore, if an employer wants to terminate an employee for exercising his/her rights under the FMLA, the employer will usually try to find an alternative reason to use for the termination. But just because the employer establishes a “cover-up” reason for the termination, does not mean that the employer is free from liability. The employee only has to prove that his or her use of FMLA leave was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision to terminate or discipline. This proof is often established through witness testimony, email, text messages, audio recordings, or even simply the disparate treatment by itself.
For example, in one of our recent cases, our client was terminated while he was on approved FMLA leave. Our client used FMLA leave to admit himself into rehab for alcoholism. Immediately after he left for rehab, several emails were exchanged among upper management, discussing his leave, and the fact that he was attending rehab. In one email, an executive of the company stated, “we have too many signs to ignore, and not proactively address.” That email was immediately forwarded to the chief investigator of the company.
The very next day, the company launched an investigation against our client, regarding alleged misappropriation of company product. Within days of taking FMLA leave, the company had decided to terminate our client for misappropriation of company product. The company had decided to terminate our client, without interviewing him, or giving him the opportunity to rebut any of the allegations. After our client was terminated, his manager filled out an exit interview worksheet. One of the questions on the worksheet stated: “Would you rehire this person? If not, please explain why.” To this question, our client’s manager wrote: “No. Personal life in ruins. Needs outside help….” The employer never returned our client to his position after returning from FMLA leave.
At trial, we were able to prove (and the jury agreed) that the company’s decision to terminate was motivated by our client’s use of FMLA leave. As a result, we recovered compensatory and liquidated damages for our client. If you believe your employer has interfered with your FMLA rights, or has retaliated against you for taking FMLA, contact our office immediately.
Rachel and Dominick were incredibly helpful throughout the entire process. They got back to me quickly, whenever I had questions, which helped me stay calm during a very stressful time. Rachel was confident in her abilities and knowledge of the labor laws, and she was able to secure a settlement for me. If you ever find yourself in a situation that requires you take action against an employer, I would highly recommend the Friedman Firm. There's no one I would recommend more to be in your corner.
If you are in need of an employment attorney, this is your sign to talk to Rachel and Jamie. Amazing!! They handled my case like the true professionals they are! They stuck to a strategy, even when it seemed like it wasn’t going our way and BAM! We get the outcome we wanted. I couldn’t be happier and I will always return to them if I EVER have an employment issue again. Thank you so much for helping me and my family!
Dedicated! Thorough! Detailed! Professional! Personable! I can keep going with the many qualities Pete and his team have. I highly recommend him!!! You won't be disappointed.
I needed an employment lawyer to work through a non compete. Pete at The Friedmann Firm was listed as one of the three best rated employment lawyers on a local website. I called him in the morning and later that night he was on the case and provided sound council through a very tense negotiation. Don’t take a chance with your career, reach out and get good council. Pete was very responsive every step of the way and delivered positive results. I highly recommend Pete and his Firm!
Rachel was top-notch from start to finish. She was responsible, professional, quick to respond to emails, texts or phone calls. She gives it to you straight, which I prefer! She thinks outside the box and is definitely the dog you want in the fight for you. She does not waste time and immediately dives right in to get the best results she can for you. I would highly recommend Rachel and her firm to anyone who wants to get the job done right, the first time, in a professional, compassionate and decisive manner.
My wife used this firm for a matter she had with her former employer. She could not have been more satisfied with their services. They were timely in responses, courteous, and very thoughtful. This was a difficult process for her and Pete made it so much easier by handling all of the details of her case.
Rachel Sabo of The Friedmann Firm believed in me when no one else did & helped me through every step of my legal process. Very happy with the firm’s professionalism & dedication to my case.
I called them with some questions about my employment and Jamie was very helpful. I didn’t need an attorney to handle a case for me - only to help me navigate an issue I was having at work. She answered my questions and I felt she truly listened to me. I’d recommend this firm to anyone looking for an employment lawyer. Thank you!
Pete resolved issues I was having with my employer in a quick and favorable manner. He is also easy to talk to and understands his clients rights AND needs. You’d do right to call The Friedmann Firm.
I had a terrific experience with Rachel. She handled my case in a very professional manner. She made herself available and always kept me updated. Her knowledge of the law is incredible. She took the time to educate me on the legal processes so I understood what was happening with my case. Thank you Rachel for helping me navigate a most difficult situation. I am so thankful to have had you as my attorney. You have my highest recommendation.