Gave notice to employer 7 months ago I'll be taking bonding leave when my fiancée and I have our child. After the birth, employer was upset I wanted leave. Said he is short staffed/leaving out of state for a week long company meeting. Told him I would work w/ him & take a reduced schedule of 2-3 days/week. He said he couldn't guarantee this so I contacted HR and told them what he said and that I want to take leave. HR never responded. My employer then said that a nearby store would need a manager (which would be a promotion for me) & I should apply. After I applied he said if I take FMLA it will hurt my chance of getting the promotion. Seeing what he was doing to me, I contacted HR again & demanded my leave. They gave it finally, but now I've missed the 1st 2 weeks home w/ my daughter.
A Side Note: this company has a history of promising promotions and 'carrot dangling' to get their employees to do whatever they want. I moved almost 3 hours away from my family for this job. When I arrived I was put in a lower position than what I was offered. For the next year the company pulled my strings every moment they needed me to do something big for them. Each time promising the promotion that they know means so much to me. When they told me to apply for the promotion, and then after I did said if I go out on FMLA it will hurt my chances, I knew exactly what he was doing and that to me was the final straw. I truly am very upset with the company and saddened that I've missed the first couple weeks with my child. I know that the company dragged their feet while all the store managers went to an out of state company meeting. I know that my boss tried keeping me from taking the leave by using the promotion gimmick on me again.
Employment / Labor Attorney
Your best remedy is to start looking for another job. You may also want to contact the US Department of Labor' Wage and Hour Division concerning this company's approach to FMLA. Keep in mind that if you file a complaint and are the only one with this issue, the company will in all likelihood identify you as one who complained and retaliate. Even though such retaliation is unlawful, if the employer has another legitimate ground for its action outside of retaliation, you will have a difficult time maintaining an action against the employer.
This is meant as general legal information and is not to be construed as legal advice in an attorney client relationship.
This certainly sounds like impermissible interference under the FMLA. Question is what damages you are entitled to, as the FMLA does not provide for emotional distress, and it does not sound like you have lost wages. If you do not receive the promotion because of taking leave, then you likely can receive damages for that, which would be the difference between your current salary and the salary of the new position. I also wonder if there is impermissible gender stereotyping going on here - e.g., a belief that a woman can take leave, but a man is not supposed to. That would be a violation of the Civil Rights Act - Title VII, enforced by the EEOC. You can, but are not required to, report an FMLA violation to the Department of Labor. Often that agency will not take action. You are required to report a violation of the Civil Rights Act to the EEOC, usually with 180 days of the wrongdoing. Note that the EEOC does not have jurisdiction over the FMLA. Complicated, right! Though I am biased in this respect, I think it worth your time to contact a lawyer. Best of luck with what is a difficult situation.
Note that this is not legal advice and this does not establish an attorney client relationship. You should review your issue with an attorney for the best possible answer to your question.