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Did your employer terminate you for taking FMLA leave?

The Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") is available to eligible employees who need to be absent from work due to their chronic or serious health condition or that of a close relative, the birth of a child or any medical condition that requires an absence of three consecutive days or more from work. Under the FMLA, an eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks leave per year. An employee must who has been on FMLA leave must generally be returned to the same or substantially similar job following FMLA leave.

It is unlawful for an employer to terminate or retaliate against an employee for exercising his or her rights under the FMLA.

The damages recoverable by a victim of unlawful discrimiantion or retaliaiton under the FMLA are limited. Monetary damages for pain and suffering are not available. A victim may recover money for lost wages. Liquidated or "double damages" are also available. An FMLA plaintiff can request to be reinstated to his or her former position. Reinstatement, however, is not common because by the time a lawsuit is over, the relationship between employer and employee is usually so degraded reinstatement is not feasible or desierable to either party. Often the bigger threat to employers for violating the FMLA is the plaintiff's ability to recover attorney's fees if he or she prevails in the litigation.

Leave under the FMLA is a right granted to employees by federal law and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor. However, it is usually advisable to seek the advice of an employment law specialist before filing a claim with the Department of Labor. 

Source:, "Case against University of Miami could take months to resolve", Tabitha Fleming, Feb. 24, 2017

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