Understanding FMLA Interference Claims

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of job-protected leave from work due to a personal or family medical need, or for the birth or adoption of a child. Employees must be notified of their rights and prevents the employer from interfering with, limiting or denying FMLA rights. An interference claim arises when an employer runs afoul of the law’s provisions.

Here's what you need to know about FMLA interference claims.

Elements of an FMLA interference claim

To prevail on an FMLA interference claim, the employee must show:

  1. The employee was eligible for FMLA protections,
  2. The employer was covered by the FMLA,
  3. The employee was entitled to take FMLA leave,
  4. The employee provided sufficient notice of intent to take leave,
  5. The employer interfered with, restrained or denied FMLA benefits, and
  6. The employee was prejudiced by the employer’s actions.

Asking for FMLA leave

Generally, there are no “magic words” that must be used to take FMLA leave. However, the employee must provide their employer with sufficient information to understand that the requested leave falls under a qualifying reason. For example, if an employee meets with their employer and asks for information about medical leave, this likely qualifies as an attempt to exercise benefits—even if they don’t mention the FMLA by name.

Is it legal for HR to discourage employees from using FMLA leave?

Employers cannot discourage employees from attempting to exercise their rights under the FMLA. They are not allowed to impede access to FMLA benefits, whether by “subterfuge, concealment or intimidation.” Interference or restraint alone can establish a violation.

If you’ve experienced FMLA interference, a seasoned Kardell Law Group whistleblower attorney can help. Call our office today to schedule a consultation.