It is illegal for an employer to demote an employee BECAUSE that employee took FMLA leave. However, if the demotion was going to occur anyway for reasons unrelated to the leave, then that would be illegal. So, what matters is your employer's motivation.
Your employer's motivation is a factual question that can only be decided by a jury in consideration of all the relevant evidence. Fortunately, there is a PRESUMPTION that an employer acted in retaliation for an employee having taken FMLA leave when the adverse employment action occurs while the employee is on FMLA leave. Moreover, based on your facts, it seems there is a strong circumstantial case to be made that your employer was motivated by the FMLA.
The important thing at this point is to act QUICKLY. Claims for FMLA retaliation typically must be brought within 2 years of when the employee was informed about the adverse employment action. If this all happened in 2014, you may be extremely close to your deadline, if it hasn't passed already. Therefore, you should retain an attorney as soon as possible.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
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