“Is it a violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to be denied a full raise based on my FMLA-approved absences?”

Question: My annual performance evaluation rating was in the category that allows me to receive the usual percentage increase in my salary. However, I have not received the usual percentage increase.`

My manager told me that I was not receiving the usual percentage increase due to “attendance issues.” I was told “You missed a lot of work this year; this is something you need to work on.” That can only refer to my FMLA-approved absences, because besides them, my attendance has been good.

What do you think I should do?

         Shreveport, Louisiana  

Answer: Rachel, from what you have described, it seems clear that your employer is denying you workplace compensation you would otherwise be paid in response to your taking a FMLA leave of absence. That is a violation of FMLA, and would most likely be considered “FMLA Retaliation.”

My suggestion to you is to send an email (with a blind copy to yourself) to your employer’s Head of Human Resources expressing in a clear, respectful and pleasant way that you believe from what your manager told you, that – perhaps without intention or mean-spiritedness – your employer is in violation of its legal obligations to you under the Federal FMLA statute. You should express your reason for believing this just as  you did when writing to me.

Your letter should present facts of your attendance, details of your FMLA absence, what your manager told you, and other relevant facts, because such specificity gives your letter greater credibility. Your letter should not include any threats or name-calling.

Your letter should ask for (a) the usual percentage increase in salary, retroactively, (b) a prompt, written response, and (c) your expectation that this letter should not result in further retaliation of any kind against you.

Your letter should acknowledge that you are not a lawyer, but you believe this is a legal violation.

If you are uncomfortable with expressing yourself in writing, and are interested in obtaining a “Model Letter to HR Complaining about a FMLA Violation” from our Model Letters and Memos page, just [click here].

Hope this helps you “Stand Up for Yourself at Work,” which is our “motto.”

          Best, Al Sklover

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved

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