The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows employees who are eligible to take time off of work when they become ill, take care of sick family members, and attend to other medical needs, including disabilities. Unfortunately, many Riverside employees who use their rights under FMLA to take time off work experience retaliation from their employers. Their employer may terminate their employment when the employee returns to work, demote the employee, or engage in other adverse actions.
If your employer has denied your FMLA benefits or retaliated against you for using your rights, it is important that you speak to a California employment law attorney about your options. You may be entitled to compensation from your employer by pursuing a legal claim. Successful claimants can obtain compensation for front pay, back pay, other compensatory damages, legal fees, and cost, and in some cases, punitive damages.
Understanding Your FMLA Rights as an Employee in California
The Federal Medical Leave Act applies to employers with more than 50 employees. The law requires employers to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off of work for the following reasons:
- Pregnancy complications
- Caring for a newborn baby
- Placing a child for adoption or foster care
- Taking care of a child, spouse, or parent
In addition to taking leave from work for these reasons, the FMLA protects employees from retaliatory actions by their employers. When employers are unhappy that an employee uses FMLA benefits to take time off of work, they may fire or punish the employee when they return to work.
The employer may give them the worst job assignments, cut their hours back, demote them, cut their pay, or fire them. The employer may give another reason than the employee using their FMLA leave to try to cover their unlawful actions. If you know or suspect your employer has subjected you to adverse employment actions because you tried to use your FMLA rights or did use them, it is crucial that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
California has passed its version of the FMLA, which is called the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Under this law, eligible employees can take a total of 12 weeks of paid or unpaid job protection leave during a 12-month period. Employees will keep the same employer-paid health benefits while on leave that they had while they were working. Employees can use their leave for one or more of the following reasons:
- The birth of a child or the adoption or foster care placement of a child
- To care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition. Immediate family members include spouses, children, or parents.
- When the employee cannot work because of a serious health condition.
What Constitutes a Serious Health Condition?
A serious health condition is any injury, illness, impairment, or physical or mental condition that causes or requires one or more of the following:
- Any period of incapacity or treatment in connection with or after receiving inpatient care
- Any period of incapacity requiring absence from work, school, or other regular daily activities, of more than three consecutive calendar days
- Ongoing treatment by or under the supervision of a health care provider for a chronic or long-term health condition that is incurable
- Restorative dental or plastic surgery after an accident or injury
The Differences Between the FMLA and the CFRA
There are some important differences between the FMLA and the CFRA. Under the FMLA, pregnancy is considered a serious health condition. However, under the CFRA, pregnancy itself is not covered. In California, pregnant employees are entitled to pregnancy disability leave for up to four months.
Employers must comply with the slot if they have five or more employees, and there is no eligibility period for the employees to be able to use their benefits. Eligible employees can take 12 weeks of baby bonding leave under the CFRA. The first 12 weeks of pregnancy disability leave can run simultaneously with the employee’s FMLA leave. During that time, employers need to keep providing eligible employees with their health benefits.
Registered domestic partners are not covered under the FMLA, but they are covered under the CFRA, just like spouses. FMLA-eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave for any qualifying accident exigency arising because a family member is on active military duty. The same leave is available for those with a family member who has been notified of an impending call to active duty status and support of a contingency operation.
Health benefits must be included during the leave. The family member must be a spouse, child, or parent who is a member of the guard, reserve, or retired member of the Armed Services. The CFRA does not cover this type of leave.
FMLA provides paid leave for caring for a spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member. In these situations, an employee can take a total of 26 weeks of leave during a 12-month period to care for a covered service member who’s ill or injured in the line of duty on active duty. These benefits are covered under the CFRA if the family member is a spouse, child, or parent.
Discuss Your Case With an Employment Attorney in Riverside
Has your employer violated your rights under the FMLA, California Family Rights Act, or both? if so, you only have a limit of time to pursue compensation from your employer.
The Riverside-based HKM Employment Attorneys are prepared to help you understand whether you have a valid legal claim for compensation. We can assist you in taking the appropriate legal action. Your family and future are too important to let your employer’s unlawful actions jeopardize your future. Do not hesitate to contact HKM Employment Attorneys to schedule a free case evaluation.