In California, employees who work for an employer at least one year, have worked at least 1250 hours during the year preceding a requested leave, and work for an employer who has at least 50 or more employees within a 75 mile square radius of the employee’s workplace, may qualify for taking protected leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). An employee who qualifies for protection under CFRA may take up to 12 weeks of leave because of their own serious health condition, or to care for the serious health condition of a family member (spouse, child, or parent). CFRA also protects employees who take leave to care for a new born child.
Whenever requesting leave because of your own serious health condition, or because of the serious health condition of a spouse, child, or parent, the employee should always provide the employer notice of the anticipated length and reason for the leave. In order for a leave to qualify for CFRA protection, the employer must be provided sufficient information that the leave is likely CFRA qualifying. While legally notice of the need to take CFRA leave may be given orally, it is always better to give the notice in writing, so the employer cannot later deny proper notice was given. In the written notice, state the reason for the requested leave, it is better to just tell the employer what diagnosed medical condition is causing you to need leave, and then state the anticipated length of the requested leave. If your notice does not tell the employer that your leave is for a serious medical condition, then the notice maybe insufficient to apprise the employer that the leave qualifies for CFRA protection. The employer is entitled to request a doctor confirm the need for the leave, so if the employer requests a doctor’s note confirming your need for leave, make sure you get them the note within 15 days of your leave request.
When the need for CFRA leave is foreseeable, the employee is required to provide the employer 30 days advance notice of the need for CFRA leave. This means if you have an operation scheduled two months in the future, don’t wait until the week before to request CFRA leave, make the request at least 30 days before the need for the leave.
However, 30 days advance notice cannot always be given, so in situations where sudden illness causes an unexpected need for CFRA leave, the law requires the employee to give notice of the need for the leave as soon as practical. Never delay in giving your employer notice of your need to take CFRA leave.
When an employee qualifies for CFRA leave, and the request is made 30 days in advance of the need for the leave, or if 30 days advance notice is not possible, then notice of the need for CFRA leave is was given as soon as possible, it would be an unlawful for the employer to deny the employee the leave. Qualifying employees have the right to take family care and medical leave for:
* Adoption or foster placement of a child by or with the employee;
* Care of the serious health condition of a spouse, child, or parent;
* Care of the employee’s own serious health condition; and
* Care for a new born child.
At the conclusion of an employee taking CFRA leave, the employer must reinstate the employee to the same or a comparable job. However, there is no right to reinstatement if the employee would not otherwise have been employed at the time reinstatement is requested. In other words, if an employee would have been terminated anyway, regardless of the employee taking CFRA leave, then an employer can still terminate the employee.
An employee can bring legal action against an employer who denies them their rights under CFRA. There are several different types of legal claims that can be made, including retaliation for requesting or taking CFRA leave, failure to reinstate at the conclusion of CFRA leave, and interference with CFRA rights. If an employee prevails in a lawsuit for denial of CFRA rights, they can receive damages for lost wages, emotional distress and potentially punitive damages. Also, if a plaintiff wins they can recover attorney’s fees and costs incurred in bringing the lawsuit.
If you have questions about your rights under CFRA, consult with a wrongful termination attorney. A wrongful termination lawyer
should be able to tell you about your rights under CFRA and the best way to protect them.