The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) exists so that employees can take unpaid leave for certain family and medical situations which may arise. The FMLA specifies what those situations are and, when they happen to someone, grants an employee the right to take time to appropriately deal with them. But it also protects employees in the process.
The rights granted by the FMLA cannot be interfered with by your employer – they are bound by the law, which restricts conduct an employer may otherwise take. An employer cannot restrain or deny your attempt to exercise any right under the FMLA. This includes trying to discourage you from using those rights.
No employee can be discharged or otherwise discriminated against for exercising any right under the FMLA. This protection goes beyond simply taking unpaid leave when the circumstances allow it – it also includes filing any charges under the FMLA, taking part in any proceeding related to it and giving any information to an inquiry about FMLA violations.
Employer violations of the FMLA can come in many forms. They are not allowed to dissuade you from taking leave or refuse to authorize it. Nor can an employer manipulate work hours to avoid responsibility under the FMLA. Under no circumstances can an employee’s use of FMLA time (or even requesting to use it) be used against the employee for things like hiring, promotions or terminations.
The protections provided by the FMLA are real and must be adhered to. If you believe your employer is violating those protections in any way, seek the guidance of a professional who is experienced in employment law. They can help you analyze the employer’s actions and decide on an appropriate response.