Many employees are protected from adverse employment action (i.e., demotion, termination, failure to hire, etc.) for medical reasons.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain family or medical reasons. The FMLA also requires that employers maintain an employee’s health benefits during the leave and restore the employee to their original or equivalent job upon return from the leave. The Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act (RI-PFMLA) provides eligible employees with up to 13 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family or medical reasons. The Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (MA-PFMLA) provides eligible employees with up to 26 weeks of paid leave for certain family or medical reasons. The leave is funded through a payroll tax on employees and employers. Employees may be eligible for MA-PFMLA leave if they have earned at least $5,700 (in 2022) or $6,000 (in 2023) over the past 4 calendar quarters and work for a covered employer. A key difference is that the FMLA and RI-PFMLA provide for unpaid leave, while the MA-PFMLA provides paid leave funded through a payroll tax on employees and employers.
If an employer interferes with an employee’s FMLA, RI-PFMLA, or MA-PFMLA rights or retaliates against an employee for taking leave, the employee may have a claim under the relevant law. Interference can include denying or discouraging an employee from taking leave, failing to restore an employee to their original or equivalent job after their leave, or interfering with an employee’s leave benefits. Retaliation can include any adverse action taken by the employer against an employee who has taken leave or has made a complaint related to leave rights.
Rhode Island’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) also provide for medical and other leave. TDI offers partial wage replacement for eligible workers unable to work due to non-work-related illnesses or injuries, with benefits lasting up to 30 weeks. TCI, on the other hand, provides support for those taking time off to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a newborn child, new adopted child, or new foster-care child, offering benefits for up to 6 weeks per year. Both programs require contributions through payroll taxes and specific earnings requirements. TDI focuses on your own disability, whereas TCI is centered on caregiving and bonding.
If your employer has violated your medical leave or FMLA rights, reach out to Sinapi Law Associates, Ltd., as soon as possible to discuss your situation. We can help you determine the most appropriate course of action to remedy this adverse action, such as reinstatement, front pay, back pay, emotional damages, and more.
Whether you have been denied a job because of a medical condition (like pregnancy, disability, or chronic illness) or you have suffered retaliation for taking a medical leave, our caring and experienced employment law attorneys are ready to advocate passionately on your behalf. We will examine your case thoroughly to identify any violations or wrongdoing on the part of your employer. Should we uncover such findings, we will help you hold your employer responsible for their failure to honor your legal protections. Depending on the details of your situation, we may seek to have the employer reinstate you to your former position, grant you the promotion you deserve, or compensate you for what they owe you (and for the emotional pain you experienced as a direct result of their actions).