New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

How Does the Family Medical Leave Act Protect Against Discrimination?

Author: discrimination lawyer Alena Shautsova

As long as actions are not discrimination based, employers can fire, demote, discipline, or take any other legitimate employment action against employees who are on a Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) authorized leave. However, an employer cannot terminate you because you took an authorized FMLA leave.

Your rights under the FMLA

The FMLA entitles employees to take up to 12 weeks of medical leave within one year for the following:

  • Child birth and caring for the newborn within the baby's first year
  • Caring for an adopted or foster child within the first year of placement
  • Caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition
  • Your own serious health condition that makes you unable to perform essential work functions
  • Emergency arising out of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who is a military member on active duty

Employers may take 26 workweeks of leave within a 12-month period to care for family members under a military caregiver leave.

Example of an FMLA discrimination case

In the case Lynch v. City of Largo, Crystal Lynch sued the City of Largo for terminating her based on FMLA discrimination. Ms. Lynch worked for the Largo Fire Department and after being diagnosed with epilepsy began to take days off under a FMLA authorization. During her first year working there, she exercised this right and experienced no work problems, received a raise, and a job promotion. When her condition worsened she took more time off. At one point her supervisor questioned her about why she was taking so much FMLA time and subsequently fired her by citing her failure to correct a time card error. However, as a routine, the employer gave other workers the opportunity to correct time card errors. She sued and won the case.

If you suspect discrimination because you are taking an authorized FMLA leave, consult a New York employment lawyer to protect your rights.

The Law Office of Alena Shautsova is an employment law firm serving clients in Brooklyn, New York City, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and surrounding communities.

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