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Qualifying for FMLA could protect workers from retaliation

Managers and supervisors in New York should avoid criticizing employees for taking time off for medical treatment and recovery. Even if a worker does not officially take a leave under the terms of the Family Medical Leave Act, time off that could have qualified as FMLA leave could still entitle an employee to protection from retaliation or interference.

One court has already allowed an employee's complaint of interference to proceed as a possible violation of the FMLA. Although the female plaintiff had never formally asked for an FMLA leave and the employer had not granted time off under its provisions, she still received time off to treat arthritis in both of her hands.

The company approved her request for time off for a surgery. After she returned to work, she still needed additional days off for physical therapy. Her supervisor continued to approve her time off but started to complain about her absences. After the woman had a second surgery, criticism at work increased. When she asked for time off for a third surgery, she received a poor work evaluation and then was fired. She subsequently filed a lawsuit accusing her employer of interfering with her right to job protection as described in the FMLA.

A worker who is experiencing employment law violations could consult an attorney. Problems like discrimination and wrongful termination could be evaluated by an attorney to determine if the employer acted unlawfully. To defend a person's rights, an attorney could inform the employer about the broken laws and request a settlement that covers compensation for lost income or reinstatement to a position. An attorney might also advance the case to a trial if an employer refuses to negotiate in good faith or recognize legal obligations to the worker.

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