As employees, we are generally required to adhere to the work schedule set by our employers. However, an extenuating circumstance or major life event may prevent you from being able to work the number of hours or days your employer expected you to work this year. You may worry that if you take leave, your employer may take negative action against you or terminate your job. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) exists to protect eligible employees from this possibility.
The FMLA exists to allow eligible employees to apply for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year and guarantees that they will have the same or equivalent job when they return. Employers who are covered by the FMLA are legally required to grant an employee’s leave request as long as the employee is eligible for it.
An FMLA denial could constitute retaliation or interference
North Carolina employers may rightfully deny an employee’s FMLA leave request if the employee fails to meet FMLA requirements. However, denying an eligible employee’s request for leave or otherwise preventing an employee from exercising their right to FMLA leave could be considered retaliation or interference.
- Retaliation – Employer took adverse action against the employee (e.g., demoted or terminated employment) for exercising FMLA rights.
- Interference – Employer restrained, interfered with, or denied the employee’s exercise of their FMLA rights.
Employees may recover back pay, front pay, reinstatement, and other damages if they file an FMLA interference or retaliation claim against their employer. If your employee rights were violated, an employment law attorney can help you throughout the legal process, starting with the initial filing of your claim.