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Can my boss deny me FMLA leave even if I didn’t mention the FMLA?


FMLA Leave Photo

Under both Connecticut and Massachusetts law, the answer is “no.”

The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to grant leave requests care for a sick family member or themselves due to a serious health condition. In addition, such leave may not be punished, even by written reprimand. Many times, leave is taken by employees to care for a seriously ill family members and the employee isn’t aware that such time falls under the FMLA. Many times, those absences are punished by employers as part of their normal attendance policy enforcement. The FMLA says:

The employee need not expressly assert rights under the FMLA or even mention the FMLA.

29 C.F.R. Section 825.302.

This is the rule because employees usually do not know their rights. If you took leave to care for a seriously ill family member or yourself, that leave is protected under the law and your employer may not punish you for it, whether by written reprimand or termination.

Under Massachusetts law, you may have even broader protections. The Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) allows covered workers to take up to eight weeks of unpaid leave following the birth or adoption of a child. In addition, the Small Necessities Leave Act (SNLA) allows worker totake up to twenty four hours per year off from work to attend their child’s education-related activities, or to accompany a child or elderly relative to medical or dental appointments.