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Can my employer deny me my accrued paid time off during FMLA leave for pregnancy?

Denver, CO |

My out of state employer (RI) is denying me my accrued paid time off (13 days) during my FMLA leave (I'm 9 months pregnant). I requested 9 weeks, and now HR is saying I cannot use any of my PTO until I return to work. It already took 2 weeks to get a response after submitting my request, and now the Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities form (WH-381) they finally sent me isn't even filled out with my name or dates I am requesting, nor does it specify what the "applicable conditions related to the substitution of paid leave" are.
It just says to contact HR, which I have, numerous times, to no avail.
Can my employer deny me my accrued paid time off?
I am not trying to extend my leave, I'm just trying to get at least some income for part of my leave.
Thank you for your time!

I asked if I could take my PTO before starting my leave, they said no. I then asked if I could ask for only 6 weeks of FMLA and then take my 3 weeks of PTO, and they said no, but that I can use my PTO after I return to work. I am completely lost as to what I can and cannot do. The employee handbook does not have anything stating what the restrictions of PTO are, nor does it mention anything about using PTO during unpaid leave.

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Attorney answers 1


Under FMLA you can elect to use paid time off during your FMLA-protected leave. Employers often require you to use paid time off (either sick time or vacation time) to reduce the overall amount of time you are out of the office so you are not taking FMLA plus vacation in the same year. I can't say I've ever even heard of an employer refusing to let you use both.

You may have issues with both FMLA and pregnancy discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)/Title VII. You should speak with a local employment lawyer about your options.