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  • Writer's pictureS. Anne Marie Archer

3 Ways that Employers are Misusing and Abusing FMLA

Updated: Mar 11

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is important to consult with legal professionals for guidance on specific legal matters.

Results on engagements and online courses may vary, successful outcome is not guaranteed.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) stands as a beacon of support for American workers, offering vital protections during significant life events. Enacted in 1993, FMLA allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for qualified medical and family reasons, such as the birth of a child, serious illness, or caring for a sick family member. While FMLA serves as a crucial safeguard for employees, instances of misuse and abuse by some employers cast a shadow over its intended purpose.


At its core, FMLA aims to balance the needs of the workforce with the operational requirements of businesses. However, certain employers exploit gray areas within the law or flout its provisions altogether, jeopardizing the well-being and rights of their employees.

Here are 3 common ways that employers misuse and abuse employee FMLA rights:


1.        Denial of FMLA when it should rightfully be approved

The FMLA provides clear criteria for eligibility and qualifying reasons for leave, yet some employers may wrongfully reject legitimate requests, leaving employees in dire situations without necessary support. Whether out of ignorance or disregard, such denials can have severe consequences for employees grappling with medical emergencies or family crises.


2.        Invasive questioning and probing into the reason for the FMLA request.

Some employers resort to invasive questioning, probing into the personal and medical details of an employee's situation. While FMLA permits employers to request medical certification, this information should be limited to what is necessary to determine eligibility and manage the leave effectively. However, instances abound where employers overstep boundaries, prying into sensitive matters that have no bearing on the leave request.


3.        Retaliating against employees upon request or upon return from FMLA

Perhaps most insidious is the act of retaliation against employees upon their return from FMLA leave. Despite legal protections explicitly prohibiting such behavior, some employers engage in subtle or overt forms of retaliation, including demotions, reduced hours, or hostile work environments. Such actions not only violate the spirit of FMLA but also erode trust between employers and employees, fostering an environment of fear and insecurity.


It's important for employees to recognize their rights under FMLA and to stand up against any form of abuse or retaliation. If you suspect your employer is misusing FMLA or retaliating against you for utilizing your rights under the law, it's crucial to seek guidance and support. Consulting with legal experts or reaching out to advocacy groups can provide valuable resources and assistance in navigating complex workplace dynamics.

Moreover, it's essential for employers to uphold the principles of FMLA and foster a culture of respect and support for their employees. By adhering to the provisions of FMLA, including approving leave requests in a timely manner, respecting employee privacy, and refraining from retaliatory actions, employers can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all.

In conclusion, while FMLA serves as a vital safety net for American workers, instances of employer misuse and abuse threaten to undermine its effectiveness. By raising awareness of these issues, advocating for employee rights, and holding employers accountable, we can strive to ensure that FMLA fulfills its intended purpose of supporting individuals during times of need, rather than being exploited for ulterior motives.

Please check out my latest Youtube video on this subject

Remember, if you believe your employer is retaliating against you for using FMLA, it may be grounds to seek a negotiated separation with severance and cash out of that workplace.

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Explore the course and take the necessary steps towards reclaiming your professional narrative and countering any retaliatory acts that you may experience as a result of taking state or federally mandated FMLA!


For more tips about navigating and escaping difficult HR situations,

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HR is not your enemy, but they are definitely not your friend, I am.


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