Adoption can be a time consuming and emotionally draining process. It may involve visits to the court, consultations with lawyers, travel to a foreign country and more. A newly adoptive parent needs time to bond with her new family member and time to allow the child to settle into her new surroundings. Yet an adoptive parent is expected to do this while simultaneously juggling the demands of work and other family responsibilities.

Fortunately, there is help. A law known as the Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees employees of companies that meet specific qualifications the right to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain situations. An employee who works for such a company, and who has properly requested leave under the FMLA, cannot be denied the time off.

Also under this employment law, employers may not discriminate or retaliate in any way against the employee for having taken the time off. If the employee has properly requested and is entitled to leave under the FMLA, employers must also grant the employee the requested time. Furthermore, upon return to work, the employee must be reinstated to her old job, at her old pay level, with all the rights and benefits she enjoyed before she took leave.

Employers do not always follow the rules. They may deny leave to which an employee is legally entitled. They may demand that an employee end leave early, under threat of losing her job. An employee may not receive a bonus to which he was entitled, he may not be reinstated in his old (or in an equivalent) position or he may find that he is no longer entitled to benefits that he previously received. He may discover that key responsibilities have been shifted to another worker, or even that it was decided, while he was on leave, that he is not a necessary player in the company.

National employment law has given you the right, under certain circumstances, to make your family a priority. You should not have to suffer for exercising that right.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated or retaliated against for taking time off under the rights given to you by the Family and Medical Leave Act, it’s time to talk to an attorney. An employment law attorney will help you understand your rights and options.