My Employer is Discriminating Against Me for Taking Time Off Under the FMLA

Web Admin - Friday, May 06, 2016

employer discrimination, taking FMLA, Illinois Employment Law AttorneyMost workers have a federally protected right under the Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take up to 12 weeks off from work, unpaid, to care for themselves or a close family member who is sick or injured. Additionally, workers do not have to fear losing their job or being discriminated against or retaliated against. 

If you believe that you are an employee who is eligible for FMLA protection, but are worried that your employer has unlawfully violated your FMLA rights, you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible.

Examples of When a Person Can Take Time Off Under the FMLA

There are several instances when a worker can take unpaid leave from his or her job under the FMLA. Examples include:

- When a worker is ill, injured, or has a serious medical condition;

- When a worker needs to provide care for his or her spouse, child, or parent who has a serious medical condition or illness;

- When a worker is incapacitated due to pregnancy;

- When a worker needs prenatal care before a child birth;

- Child birth;

- When a worker needs to provide care to his or her newborn child; or

- A worker is pacing a child up for adoption or into foster care. 

How Do Workers Use FMLA Leave?

When a worker has notice ahead of time that he or she will need to take time off from work under the FMLA, he or she must provide his or her employer with 30 days of notice if possible. When advanced notice is not possible, or the need to take time under the FMLA is sudden and unplanned, workers need to provide notice as soon as possible. Works must follow their employer’s normal policies concerning taking leave. 

Employers Must Respect Your FMLA RIghts

If you are a worker who is eligible for FMLA protection, then your employer must comply with the law and allow you to take the qualifying time that you need. Employers are not permitted to interfere with your rights under the FMLA, nor can an employer restrain you or deny you your FMLA rights. Your employer is also prohibited from discharging you, or discriminating against you, for exercising your rights under the FMLA. 

Discrimination could take the form of:

- Treating you differently after you took FMLA time off;

- Denying you promotions or certain work projects or assignments;

-Giving you a bad review for no good reason other than that you took time off under the FMLA; and/or

- Deeming you ineligible for promotions or bonuses because you took time off under the FMLA. 

No one who is eligible for FMLA protections should be denied his or her rights by his or her employer. If you believe that your employer has improperly taken action against you or has discriminated against you for taking unpaid leave under the FMLA, you should consult with an Illinois employment law attorney today. 

Our law firm serves the communities of Crystal Lake, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Inverness, and Deer Park. Please call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

    Ken Apicella

    About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


New Law Mandates Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Women

Web Admin - Thursday, December 11, 2014

pregnant woman wrongful termination, employee rights lawyerDiscrimination against pregnant women in the workforce has long been a concern, and now the Illinois legislature has passed a new law designed to help give women greater protection. The new law modifies the Illinois Human Rights Act, effective starting next year, to more clearly protect pregnant women's rights. The new rights include the right to reasonable accommodation of their pregnancy by their employers, protection from employment discrimination, and protection from forced leave. The law also grants employers some protection from unreasonable demands, such as the ability to refuse accommodations if such accommodations would place an undue hardship on the business.

New Rights for Pregnant Women

The law includes four new rights for “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or medical or common conditions related to childbirth.” The most legally complex of these rights is the right to a reasonable accommodation of their pregnancy. These accommodations are changes to the employee’s duties or their workspace that allow the employee to perform the “essential duties” of the position. The law provides some examples of these reasonable accommodations, which may include things like more frequent bathroom breaks, private space for breastfeeding, or a modified work schedule.

The law also provides another set of more concrete rights to pregnant women. For instance, employers may not force accommodations onto a pregnant woman if she does not want them, a provision that is likely designed to protect women from being forced to modify or reduce their work schedules. Similarly, the law forbids an employer from forcing a pregnant woman to take maternity leave if she chooses not to.

Employer's Rights

The law also includes a new set of rights for employers that relate to the issue of reasonable accommodation. The first right is that employers can claim that the accommodation the woman is asking for would place an undue hardship on the company. The law defines undue hardship as “an action that is prohibitively expensive or disruptive.” It also provides four factors for judges to consider when determining whether something is an undue hardship:

  1. 1. The nature and cost of the accommodations;
  2. 2. The financial resources of the facility providing the accommodation and the accommodation's impact on the company's operations;
  3. 3. The resources and size of the employer; and
  4. 4. The type of work the employer does.

This provides a highly individualized test that depends greatly on both the specific employer and the accommodation requested. The law also provides the employer with the right to request medical documentation supporting the need for the accommodation.

If you believe that your rights under this new act are being violated or if you are an employer concerned about your obligations under the new law, contact a Crystal Lake employment law attorney today. Our firm helps many northwest suburban employees and businesses in towns like Rolling Meadows, Crystal Lake, Arlington Heights, Inverness, Deer Park, Palatine, and Barrington.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

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