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protecting the rights of employees in rhode island

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A brief history of the Family and Medical Leave Act

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA is relatively young in the United States, its beginning extended years before it finally became law in 1993 under President Bill Clinton. It actually first was introduced to Congress a decade earlier in 1984, but was met with resistance and was blocked each year until 1991, when it was vetoed by President George H. W. Bush. It again passed in Congress in 1992, but was again blocked by President Bush.

The act is important for Americans, as it creates allowances and protections for employees who wish to spend time with newborns immediately following birth. Studies have shown that the first few days, weeks, and months for a child are vitally important for a child's psychological growth.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows parents to bond with their child during this important time in their lives. The law also allows for an employee to take time off of work, without penalty or threat of losing his or her job, to care for a sick family member.

Like other employee protection laws, their existence is irrelevant if violations or discrimination occurs but is not reported or properly addressed. It is the responsibility of every employee to understand his or her rights in the workplace and to assure that these rights are not violated. When such violations occur, they should be promptly addressed not only to protect the employee who is a victim, but also for fellow co-workers and future employees who may also experience the discrimination or illegal activities in the workplace. If you believe your rights as an employee may have been violated, you may want to speak with a legal professional familiar with employment law to learn the best way to proceed to protect your rights and to make certain such violations do not happen again.

Source: national partnership for women & families, "History of the FMLA," accessed on Jan. 18, 2016

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