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Employee returning from FMLA? Alter pay only in rare situations

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in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

When employees return from FMLA leave, they're entitled to their same or equivalent position, pay and working conditions. If you try to place someone in a lower paying or lower-prestige job, you must document your decision very carefully. And even then, a court could view your actions as retaliation against the employee for taking leave.

For example, a credit union's marketing vice president took FMLA time off for "work-related stress." Upon his return, the company said it had restructured. Now, his position had fewer duties and paid $20,000 less. He quickly filed a lawsuit, citing FMLA retaliation. The credit union had less-than-convincing evidence that it was truly "restructuring." A jury will now decide whether the restructuring was genuine.

Advice: Follow your FMLA policy in good faith and be leery of changing employees' pay, position or job conditions right after they return from FMLA leave. Retaliation claims are often easier to prove than violations of the underlying employment law. To avoid retaliation claims, it's best to put some time between the FMLA leave and the job action.

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