HR Management & Compliance

FMLA Interference: Discharging Employee Proves Risky Business

By Meghan Siket, JD

Employers are prohibited from interfering with, restraining, or denying the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right granted to employees under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You are also prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees for exercising or attempting to exercise any FMLA right.

The Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act (RIPFMLA) provides employees with similar rights. The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island recently granted an employer’s motion to dismiss an FMLA interference claim but denied its motion to dismiss a related claim under the RIPFMLA.

An employee alleging an interference claim under the FMLA must establish that:

  • She is eligible for the FMLA’s protection (i.e., she was employed by the company for at least 1 year and worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year).
  • The employer is covered by the FMLA (i.e., the company employs at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite).
  • She was entitled to leave (i.e., she needed leave for her own serious health condition).
  • She gave her employer notice of her intent to take leave.
  • The employer denied her the right to the benefits to which she was entitled.

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