Coming back from maternity leave after having a baby can be tough. The separation between you and your newborn can be jarring and may make it hard for you to acclimate to your work environment once again. But it can be even more difficult when you return to work, only to discover that your employer has violated your rights to a proper maternity leave.
The Family Medical Leave Act
Passed in 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects workers’ rights while they are on unpaid medical leave. Whether it’s to take care of your newborn baby or to help a sick family member, the FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks off.
When you return to work, you are entitled to certain rights under the FMLA. These rights include:
- Resuming the same position
- Having the same health insurance
- Having the same pay and benefits
If your position is for some reason unavailable to you, your employer must give you a position of equal status as your old one, with the same pay and benefits.
Protect your rights
In the unfortunate event that your employer violates your rights under the FMLA, don’t hesitate to take action. The first step you can take is to report the violation to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). Because taking action through the WHD is a legally protected service, any interference or retaliation from your employer is further violation of your right to protect yourself.
You can also file a private lawsuit against your employer for violating your rights. Under the FMLA’s statute of limitations, you have two years from the time of the infraction to file a suit. During the process, an experienced employment law attorney can help you stand up for your rights so that you can resume your responsibilities and continue to care for your family without the interference of an uncooperative employer.