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Are Violations Of Family And Medical Leave Act Common?  

April 19, 2023

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) intends to help workers balance their family and work lives by providing many employees unpaid leave for medical or family reasons. If you are eligible, you may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually and still qualify for your healthcare benefits. Unfortunately, FMLA violations happen, such as when a worker was wrongfully fired for taking a vacation while on leave. If this has happened to you, our Illinois family medical leave attorneys in Chicago at Law Office of Michael Smith can help.

FMLA Violation Statistics

The US Department of Labor compiles statistics on FMLA complaints and no-violation cases annually. Recent statistics are:

●        FY 2022: Complaints – 780; Percent of no-violation cases: 60.4%

●        FY 2021: Complaints – 928; Percent of no-violation instances: 57%

●        FY 2020: Complaints – 966; Percent of no-violation cases: 52%Person using the computer on a desk

Common Family Medical Leave Act Violations

FMLA violations happen every day in America. Sometimes, the employer violates the law out of ignorance, while others may do so purposely to save money. No matter if the violation was intentional or not, be watchful for the following FMLA violations:

Not Recognizing An FMLA Leave Request

You do not have to use the magic words ‘FMLA leave’ to take your legally-allowed leave. Instead, you only need to tell your company enough to know they must give you time off under FMLA. So, for instance, your company should know that a worker who asks for a month off to spend time with their newborn is asking for FMLA leave.

Delaying FMLA Leave

US law established in 1993 that workers have a right to FMLA leave. But employers still have rights, as well. For example, the company can delay your leave if you need leave for a foreseeable reason and do not give 30 days’ notice. But other than that exception, you can take your leave when required.

For instance, if your doctor says you need immediate hip surgery tomorrow, your company cannot make you delay the procedure because it does not fit their schedule. Instead, you should try to provide 30 days’ notice, but this is not always possible.


Making The Worker Work On Leave

Employees on FMLA leave do not need to work. But the company might check in with you from time to time and ask work-related questions. For instance, if your temporary replacement cannot locate a vital client file, they can call or email you. But the employer cannot make you take on your usual job duties on leave.

Asking For Too Much Notice

The leave act allows companies to make their workers follow the customary notice requirements, but only for paid leave. The company cannot mandate more notice when it is FMLA unpaid leave than federal law allows.

This problem may arise when the worker needs unpaid leave for an emergency health problem and cannot give notice (see the hip surgery example above). You may have to follow the company’s rules to get paid for that time off, but your right to unpaid leave is under FMLA’s notice rules.

Contact Our Family Medical Leave Attorneys In Chicago


Sadly, sometimes employers take advantage of workers who do not understand the family medical leave system. When you are most vulnerable, you need an attorney who will fight for your medical leave rights. Please contact our family medical leave attorneys in Chicago at Law Office of Michael T. Smith at (847) 466-1099.