Taking time off work to recover from illness, welcome a new child, or care for a family member is a right protected by federal law. When life throws curveballs, the Family and Medical Leave Act safeguards your job. But, some companies violate this law and retaliate against employees asserting their rights. Don’t let them get away with it.
Our employment lawyers at TONG LAW have represented employees in leave disputes for over a decade. We handle cases involving denial of leave requests, termination for medical absences, failure to reinstate employees, elimination of health benefits during leave, retaliation for taking FMLA leave, and more.
Our legal team assists with California’s CFRA leave law as well as the federal FMLA. With over a decade of experience advocating for California employees, we know how to fight back when employers disregard your rights. Don’t struggle alone if FMLA violations have impacted your job—contact our qualified California FMLA attorneys today.
FMLA and CFRA: Your Protected Time Off
Signed into law in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act grants eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of job-protected but unpaid leave per year. You can use FMLA leave to manage your own serious health condition, care for your family, or bond with a new child. Despite being unpaid, this leave offers important protections.
Your employer must maintain your health insurance benefits during your leave. During this period, you have a right to return to the same or an equivalent job after leave. The FMLA makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against staff for requesting or taking protected time off.
California residents also benefit from protections under The California Family Rights Act (CFRA), which expands family leave rights. For instance, the CFRA allows leave to care for grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or parents-in-law with serious health conditions. CFRA leave can extend FMLA leave by up to 12 weeks.
Who Qualifies for FMLA or CFRA Leave?
FMLA covers public agencies and private sector employers with 50 or more employees for at least 20 work weeks per year.
To qualify for family and medical leave protections in California, employees must meet the following requirements:
- The employer must have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the worksite.
- The employee must have worked for that employer for 12 months or longer. The 12 months of employment do not need to be consecutive unless there was a break of 7 years or more.
- The employee must have logged at least 1,250 hours working for that employer over the last 12 months before taking leave.
Eligible employees can take up to 12 workweeks of job-protected but unpaid leave over a 12-month period. In some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave intermittently or use a reduced schedule with employer approval. To be eligible for CRFA leave, employees must meet the same qualifying criteria. However, CRFA extends its reach to employers of 5 or more employees.
The FMLA lawyers at TONG LAW can help determine if you are eligible for protected leave based on these requirements. Contact our firm today to discuss your situation in a consultation.
What About Pregnancy Leave? Your Rights
An important distinction between the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA) is that the CFRA does not provide leave for pregnancy disability or childbirth recovery. The FMLA, however, allows birth mothers to take leave for incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal care, or serious medical conditions following childbirth.
Under the FMLA, both mothers and fathers are entitled to leave for the birth of their child or placement of their child through adoption or foster care. This new child leave must be taken within 12 months of the birth or placement event. If state law allows longer leave, only 12 weeks can be designated as FMLA-protected. For spouses working for the same employer, their combined leave may be limited to 12 weeks total.
Additionally, the FMLA allows new child leave to be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule if the employer agrees. Intermittent leave for medical reasons is allowed without employer approval. Separate from FMLA, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides up to four months of Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) for employees disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions if they meet eligibility requirements.
Your Protections Under the Family and Medical Leave Act
When you qualify for FMLA leave, the law grants you important rights and protections. Understanding your protections enables you to advocate for your entitled benefits.
The FMLA provides the following key protections:
- Up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave – Employees can take FMLA leave in a single 12-week block or intermittently when medically necessary.
- Continued group health plan benefits – Employers must maintain insurance benefits during leave on the same terms as if you continued working.
- Right to return to your job – After leave, you must be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and working conditions.
- Protection from retaliation – Employers cannot retaliate against employees for requesting or taking FMLA leave.
- Right to be free from interference – Employers cannot impede or deny employees from taking leave they qualify for.
- Right to sue for violations – You can recover damages through civil lawsuits if an employer violates your FMLA rights.
Understanding exactly what protections you are entitled to makes it more difficult for employers to skirt the law. With knowledgeable FMLA lawyers like those at TONG LAW, employees can ensure their rights are upheld. Don’t let an employer take advantage of you – assert your protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Is Your Employer Violating Your FMLA Rights?
Unfortunately, some employers disregard provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Others intentionally or unintentionally infringe on workers’ FMLA rights.
Signs your employer may be violating the FMLA include:
- Denying you time off work that qualifies for FMLA leave
- Failing to properly notify you of your eligibility status and rights
- Discouraging you from taking entitled medical or family leave
- Refusing to reinstate you to your position or an equivalent role after qualified leave
- Retaliating against you for requesting or taking protected leave
- Counting FMLA leave against you in employment decisions
- Failing to maintain your benefits during leave
- Making you reimburse them for benefit payments made during leave
Any of these actions likely constitute FMLA violations. Under the law, it is illegal for employers to interfere with, restrain, or deny workers’ ability to exercise entitled leave rights.
If your employer violates the FMLA, you can take action to remedy the infringement of your rights. Remedies include reinstatement to your previous job or an equivalent position, recovery of lost wages, employment benefits, and other forms of compensation.
Don’t suffer an unlawful denial of your FMLA rights. The experienced employment lawyers at TONG LAW help employees document violations, negotiate with employers, and file lawsuits to recover compensation.
Trust the California FMLA Lawyers at TONG LAW to Protect Your Rights
The FMLA provides fundamental protections for California employees. But exercising your rights can be hard without legal representation. TONG LAW has years of experience only representing employees in FMLA disputes.
Our attorneys can advise you on:
- Confirming your eligibility for leave
- Handling the required request and certification process
- Negotiating return to work accommodations after leave
- Recovering lost income and damages from FMLA violations
Don’t let an employer deny you the FMLA leave or protections you’ve earned. To discuss your situation in a consultation, contact the experienced California FMLA lawyers at TONG LAW today.