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Understanding Interference and Retaliation Claims Under the FMLA

Today we will delve into a crucial area of employment law: interference and retaliation claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). At Lamberton Law Firm, we're committed to ensuring that employees are informed about their rights and can recognize potential violations.

What is FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law in the United States that grants eligible employees the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specific medical and family reasons. These reasons include personal or family illness, family military leave, pregnancy, adoption, or the foster care placement of a child.

Understanding Interference Claims

Interference claims arise when an employer hinders an employee's rights under the FMLA. These rights include the entitlement to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for any of the above reasons. Interference can take several forms, including refusing to authorize FMLA leave for an eligible employee, discouraging an employee from using such leave, or manipulating the work hours to avoid responsibilities under the Act.

For example, if an employer alters the essential job functions of an employee to prevent them from taking leave, or provides inaccurate information that influences an employee's decision regarding their leave, the employer may be held liable for FMLA interference.

Retaliation Claims: A Closer Look

Retaliation claims, on the other hand, are about employer actions that punish an employee for exercising their FMLA rights. The FMLA prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees who have used or tried to use FMLA leave.

Retaliation can be more subtle than interference, making it somewhat harder to identify. Examples include negative performance reviews, demotions, reassignments, or any adverse action taken against an employee following their FMLA leave. The key factor is that the adverse action must be causally connected to the FMLA leave.

Establishing Your Case

The burden of proof in FMLA claims typically rests with the employee. For an interference claim, the employee must show that they were entitled to benefits under the FMLA and that an employer denied these benefits.

In retaliation claims, a more complex three-step process is often used: (1) the employee demonstrates a prima facie (legally sufficient) case of retaliation, (2) the employer provides a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for their actions, and (3) the employee shows that this reason is a pretext for retaliation. This may require demonstrating that the employer’s explanation is inconsistent, implausible, or contradicted by other evidence.

How Lamberton Law Firm Can Help

At Lamberton Law Firm, we understand the complexities involved in proving FMLA interference and retaliation claims. We're committed to fighting for the rights of employees and holding employers accountable when they violate these rights.

If you suspect your rights under the FMLA have been violated, it's crucial to act promptly. Reach out to us for a consultation to discuss your circumstances. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the process, help you understand your rights, and work diligently to advocate on your behalf.

The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and is not legal advice. Readers should seek legal counsel from Lamberton Law Firm or another legal services provider for any specific legal matters or concerns.