In 1993, the Family Leave and Medical Act (FMLA) became law. The FMLA helps ensure eligible employees receive time off work for medical and family-related reasons. When people in Rhode Island spend time away from work for FMLA-related situations, they expect things to return to normal when they arrive back. That’s not the case when an employer commits FMLA harassment, which can occur in many ways. If you are a victim of FMLA harassment, life can be challenging.
Employees have the right for employers to treat them with respect, and they have the right to work in a safe environment. Unfortunately, an employer or one of their employees can commit FMLA harassment with negative comments after your workplace return. These comments may include insulting remarks or jokes about your affected family members or one of your medical conditions.
Whether physical or verbal, FMLA harassment occurs if your employer or another employee intimidates you. Intimidation can happen before, during or after you take FMLA leave. Typically, these threats involve your current job or future with the company.
After taking FMLA leave, you expect to return to your same workload and position. However, some work or position-related changes can occur at work as a form of retaliation for taking leave, and this constitutes FMLA harassment. For instance, an employer committing FMLA harassment may have employees doing unfavorable work. Another example is when an employer gives a returning employee a much heavier workload than normal.
Asking invasive questions
Another form of harassment is when a supervisor or colleague asks you invasive questions. When discussing FMLA, employers shouldn’t ask you specific questions about hospitalizations, illnesses or situations involving your family members.
FMLA harassment can come from HR staff, supervisors, team leads and even co-workers who are your peers. Regardless of who commits this type of harassment, you have protections you can seek if you are a victim.