Under state and federal law, employees have certain rights and protections with respect to medical leave and leaves of absence. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) prevent employers from firing an employee for exercising his or her rights under FMLA or CFRA, respectively. In general, an employee can take a leave of absence for up to 12 weeks for serious health conditions or to bond with a child. In California, employees can also use any sick time they’ve saved to take time off to care for a family member or domestic partner. If an employer fires an employee who attempts to take a leave of absence under the terms of FMLA or CFRA, they can be held financially liable for damages as a result.
At our firm, our attorneys represent clients in cases involving allegations of FMLA and CFRA violations. We gather emails, review employee handbooks and look for patterns of behavior that indicate separate or arbitrary treatment of our client on the part of their employer.
Who Is Eligible For Leaves Under The FMLA And CFRA?
Employers who employ 50 or more employees must follow the requirements of the FMLA and CFRA. In order to be eligible for leave an employee must be employed by their employer for at least 12 months, and must have worked at least 1250 hours during the preceding 12 months. When taking leave, employees are required to submit necessary paperwork and documentation, including appropriate medical certifications, and request leave in a timely manner. For medical leave, an employee may need to submit medical information regarding their condition or that of the family member they need to care for. Medical conditions include physical and mental conditions and those that require in-home, hospital or hospice care.
Returning To Work — Your Rights Under FMLA And CFRA
California law requires that most employees be allowed to return to his or her same job after a leave of absence. If an employee’s job has been eliminated or changed, he or she must be offered a similar job or one that offers comparable pay, development opportunities and involves similar duties. However, if an employer can prove that an employee would have been laid off or that a comparable job isn’t available, the employee doesn’t have a right to return to work.
Exposing Violations Of The CFRA
Typically, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is responsible for investigating violations of the CFRA. In some cases, an employer may be willing to reach a settlement in lieu of litigation; in other cases, litigation may be necessary. If an employer is held liable for unlawfully denying an employee a leave of absence, they may be required to pay back pay, attorney’s fees, damages for pain and suffering, and fines. Additionally, they may be required to give an employee his or her job back.
Employers often assume employees won’t fight back after they’ve been wrongfully terminated after taking a lawful leave of absence. If you’ve been denied leave or have been fired after taking a leave of absence, contact Shanberg, Stafford & Bartz LLP today at 800-519-9810 or email us to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.