The FMLA requires that your employer return you to the same or a virtually identical position upon your return from medical leave. If your job upon your return is worse in noticeable ways, your employer has likely interfered with your rights under the FMLA. This is referred to as an “FMLA interference claim.”
The FMLA and its legal cousins, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Florida’s worker’s compensation anti-retaliation statute, were adopted because of the tendency of many employers to fire employees who miss work for medical reasons.
Five fast facts about FMLA interference claims (and whether you have one):
- Under the FMLA, you are entitled, upon return from leave, to be restored to the position you held when your leave began, or to be restored to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.
- An “equivalent position” is one which is virtually identical to your former position in terms of pay, benefits and working conditions, including privileges, perquisites, and status.
- It must involve the same or substantially similar duties and responsibilities, which must entail substantially equivalent skill, effort, responsibility, and authority.
- The key here is the use of the words “same” and “equivalent.” Same means same. Equivalent means “nearly identical.”
- Examples of actions which might violate your rights include, but are in no way limited to, the following:
- A cut in your salary or hourly rate;
- A reduction in your benefits, such as health or life insurance;
- A demotion;
- A decrease in your scheduled hours;
- A loss of the right to work overtime hours;
- If you’re in sales, an adverse change in the number or quality of accounts you’re assigned;
- Removal of perks such as a company car or club memberships;
- A loss of supervisory or managerial duties.
If you experience a meaningful change to your compensation, benefits or perks upon return from FMLA, consult an employee rights lawyer immediately.
Jim Garrity, Employee Rights Lawyer