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FMLA turns 20, but discrimination is still a problem

Some of our Colorado readers may not know, but this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act becoming law. President Bill Clinton signed the act into law in 1993, and since then millions of employees have enjoyed the benefits of this bill. A recent article noted how an estimated 35 million people have taken time off of work under the auspices of this law's protections.

Although this law has been in existence for twenty years now, there are still many people who do not know what exactly is covered by the law. As the recent article explained, the original thought was that the law might be used mostly by women after a pregnancy. The major provision of the law is that it allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their job for a medical reason - or to take care of a family member with a medical condition. No doubt there are plenty of women who have indeed taken leave under this law after a pregnancy, but interestingly enough an estimated 40 percent of those who have taken leave under this law are men. The law applies to employers who have more than 50 employees.

Whether taking a leave of absence from work during a difficult medical problem, or being able to stay home with a newborn baby, the Family Medical Leave Act has helped millions of people since its inception. However, the law does not come without some problems, as many people have also claimed to have been subjected to discrimination from their employer due to taking leave under the law.

Employers are not allowed to retaliate against an employee who takes leave under the FMLA. When they do, they can be held accountable. Anyone in Colorado who believes they have faced discrimination due to using the FMLA's benefits should be sure to get the right information on how to proceed with their legal options.

Source: The Telegraph, "Balancing Act: Family Medical Leave Act still helps families cope," Cindy Krischer Goodman, Feb. 12, 2013

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