The Family Medical Leave Act is a very important piece of federal legislation that allows employees who have extenuating family situations or medical conditions to take time off of work (up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year). The reasons for using such leave can be for a happy occasion, like the birth of a child; or it can be for a less-than-fortunate situation, such as a serious illness. But no matter the reason, employers cannot interfere with your right to such leave.
Along those lines, the following FMLA story shows that the importance of this law is not just for employers (who must comply with the law), but for employees as well (who need to know their rights under FMLA).
A sales employee who suffered from heart complications had to use unpaid leave; then, he was suddenly put under pressure by his employer for not meeting his sales goals. He also suffered a possible lung tumor around the same time. His employer demanded a "ride along" to assess his performance as an employee, but since he was unable to set up calls or meetings due to the multiple illnesses he was suffering from, he had little to show his employers. Without hesitation, the man was fired.
The man sued for FMLA interference and won his case.
Interfering with someone's FMLA rights can come in multiple forms. In this case, the man's employer failed to properly adjust his workload to compensate for the leave he was taking. They were counting days he took off under FMLA as part of his "performance," even though he could not work during this time.
Employers can also try and deny employees of their rightful FMLA leave, a serious situation that should draw immediate legal ire from the employee.
Another aspect to consider about FMLA is that is can sometimes spur retaliatory circumstances. An employer can start questioning a person's work ethic or value as an employee (regardless of the extenuating circumstances) because they use FMLA leave.
Source: Business Management Daily, "Avoid FMLA suit: Cut slack for leave-takers," Dec. 5, 2012