Sometimes, your health and your family’s health need to take precedence over your day-to-day work obligations.
This statement is not just a notion; it’s the law.
Under federal and California family and medical leave laws, many employees have the right to job-protected, extended leave to handle serious and personal issues.
If your job and circumstances qualify for this protection and your employer fails to honor it, you have a right to sue.
Talk to our family and medical leave attorneys at Starpoint Law to help make sure your employer respects all of your rights.
Our attorneys focus on our clients’ personal needs and fiercely protect clients against untrustworthy employers.
A Brief Overview of Your Federal and California Family Medical Leave Rights
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), you can receive 12 weeks per year of job-protected time off from work to address serious personal and family needs.
These serious needs include:
- Giving birth to a child,
- Taking care of a newborn,
- Welcoming an adopted or foster child into your home,
- Taking care of certain family members with serious health conditions,
- Handling urgent needs related to a close family member’s obligations for “covered active duty,” and
- Addressing your own serious health condition.
If your close family member is a service member with a serious illness or injury, you can receive 26 weeks of FMLA leave per year to help them.
California and federal laws can differ regarding who is and is not a close family member for leave purposes.
Speak to your family leave lawyer about whether your family issue qualifies for FMLA or CFRA leave.
What Is Job-Protected Leave?
During your time off, your employer must save your job for you and maintain your employee benefits and status.
And when you return from leave, your employer must reinstate your job (or give you a similar position) and continue your benefits.
However, your employer does not have to pay you during this time off and might require you to use sick leave or vacation leave during your time away.
Am I Eligible for Job-Protected Leave?
Before you request time off under the FMLA or CFRA, make sure that one or both of the acts apply to you.
To qualify for an FMLA request, you must work for an employer with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
And to be eligible for protected leave under either law:
- You have to have worked for your employer for at least 12 months; and
- You must have worked at least 1,250 hours for your employer in the last 12 months.
If you have any questions about whether you qualify for protected leave, speak to an experienced family and medical leave lawyer about your options.
Complaints for Family Leave Violations
Either out of ignorance or intention, some employers fail to respect the family and medical leave rights of their employees.
When this behavior occurs, it is time to take legal action.
Ways Employers Violate Family and Medical Leave Laws
An employer’s failure to honor your leave rights can occur in both obvious and subtle ways, including:
- Denying your reasonable request for leave;
- Firing you (without cause) before you return from leave;
- Discontinuing or diminishing your benefits;
- Firing you (without cause) after you return from leave;
- Reducing your wages;
- Taking away your seniority;
- Returning you to a different and undesirable position; and
- Subjecting you to harassment.
To help ensure your employer has no excuse for denying a reasonable request for leave, you want to make sure you submit your leave request as early as you can.
In some cases, you might have to give your employer 30 days’ notice before you take time off.
Reasonable vs. Unreasonable Employer Requests Regarding Medical Leave
When you request leave to handle your serious health condition or the condition of a family member, remember that your employer can ask you for minimal information from a healthcare provider to certify that leave is necessary.
This minimal information includes:
- The date the condition started,
- The amount of time needed for care, and
- A statement that you or your family need time off from work or assistance.
An employer in doubt can also ask you for a second opinion.
However, a request for a more detailed certification under any circumstance is likely a violation of your rights.
Filing a Complaint for Employer Violations of Family and Medical Leave Laws
When your employer does not fulfill its obligations under the CFRA or FMLA, you can take legal action.
For violations of the FMLA, you can file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor. And for violations of the CFRA, you can file a complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
You can also file civil lawsuits against an employer that does not comply with the leave laws.
You generally have two years to file a lawsuit regarding FMLA violations, but you have three years to file if your employer committed a willful violation of the FMLA.
As soon as you suspect a violation of your leave rights, consult with an attorney.
A knowledgeable attorney can ensure all your complaints are filed by their respective deadlines, giving you the best opportunity for a just recovery.
Speak to Our Family and Medical Leave Attorneys at Starpoint Law
If you are looking for a skilled Los Angeles, CA, FMLA attorney, Starpoint Law is the right place to look.
Our employment attorneys have an impeccable record—we have not lost a case.
And not only do we bring our history of success to the table, but we also give our clients personalized attention to ensure our legal strategies address their specific needs.