'Job-Protected' Status Helps FMLA Users Simply Return to Work

Many Houston residents have used leave time associated with the Family Medical Leave Act before. Sometimes, a medical emergency requires it; other times, it can be a happier moment, like taking care of your son or daughter immediately after their birth. FMLA rights extend to many employees, and they may not even be aware of some of the wrinkles of the system that can help them should an FMLA dispute arise.

For example, when an employee uses FMLA leave, they will likely be out of work for a while (that is the assumption, at least). FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees are granted 12 weeks of such leave every year, should the conditions merit such time off.

After that leave, the employee will be eager to return to their job -- just to get back into things. However, some employers make it difficult for the employee to return to work, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Here's another example: say an employee takes FMLA to leave. This employee and his immediate supervisor do not get along. The source of their dispute is irrelevant (in the source article, it is racial discrimination; but it could be gender discrimination, medical discrimination, or simply two people who don't see eye to eye), but because of this clash of personalities, the supervisor makes it hard for the employee to get FMLA to leave and to return from it.

Well, this employee can reasonably expect to return to a similar job with similar circumstances to the one he had before. If the employer forces the employee who returned from FMLA leave to accept a different job, with different circumstances (such as losing an office for a cubicle, which occurred in the example in the source article) and a reduced pay grade.

Essentially, employees who use FMLA leave can expect their job to be somewhat protected -- and that did not happen in this example. That can open an employer up to a number of employment-related liabilities.

Source: Business Management Daily, "Reinstate employee to equivalent job after FMLA leave," May 23, 2013