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Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor

Enforcement of the FMLA

An employee who believes his or her rights under the FMLA have been violated has the choice of:

  1. Filing a complaint with the Secretary of Labor; or
  2. Filing a private lawsuit pursuant to section 107 of the FMLA.

Filing a Complaint with the Secretary of Labor

  • A complaint may be filed in person, by mail or by telephone with the Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor. A complaint may be filed at any local office of the Wage and Hour Division.
  • The complaint should be filed within a reasonable time of when the employee discovers that his or her FMLA rights have been violated.

Filing a Private Lawsuit

  • An employee also has the right to file a private lawsuit under the FMLA in any Federal or state court of competent jurisdiction. The FMLA is subject to a statute of limitations. This means that, generally, suit must be filed within two years after the last action that the employee believes was in violation of the FMLA, or three years if the violation was willful. (It is up to the court to rule whether the alleged violation occurred and, if so, whether it was willful.) A state employee's right to private action may be limited.

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For more information on this aspect of the FMLA, see the FMLA regulations: § 825.400, § 825.401