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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees to file leaves for giving birth, adopting, placing a child in foster care, or dealing with one’s health issues. This federal law also covers attending to the needs of a family member who has a severe health condition, taking time off in the event a family member is called to active military duty, or taking care of severely injured or sick family members in the military.
The mandated leaves are provided for by law and, hence, your employer cannot deny you from acquiring these leaves. Otherwise, it would be a violation of the employment and labor laws and would be subjected to damages and other compensatory claims. If you are working in California, there is a more specific law enacted to protect your rights to emergency leaves other than the FMLA.
California offers both a pregnancy disability leave and a family medical care leave for employees, one of the few states that do so in addition to FMLA leaves. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allows eligible employees to take up a total of 12 weeks of paid or unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period. Employees keep the same employer-paid health benefits they had while working during these leaves. These leaves can also come with paid benefits, and employees can have supplemented income while on these leaves.
Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), your employer cannot deny you the right to take emergency leaves on account of the above reasons. Hence, your employer cannot use your taking of the mandated leaves as signs of tardiness or poor performance at work. Both the FMLA and CFRA protect employees while on leave and require that employees upon returning from work be reinstated to the same or similar job. Also, since the CFRA is part of the Fair Housing and Employment Act, employers are required to provide proper accommodation to employees for both pregnancy and family care.
Know Your Rights Under the FMLA
Employees in the US in general and in California, in particular, are given a certain number of days to be off work to take care of family emergencies from this employment law. These rights to take leaves off from work include:
- Giving birth,
- Placing a child in foster care,
- Dealing with one’s serious health condition,
- Attending to the needs of a family member who has a serious health condition,
- Taking time off in the event a family member is called to active military duty, or
- Taking time off to take care of a seriously injured or sick family member in the military.
Laws Protecting Family Emergency Leaves
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees may file for leave for the family emergencies mentioned above. However, to prevent abuse of the FMLA benefits, there are minimum standards you need to comply with to be eligible under the law, among them are as follows:
- Must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months;
- Must have at least worked a total of 1,250 hours during the 12-month period; and
- Must have been working at a workplace that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Also, note that the 12 months do not need to be consecutive for as long as the criteria discussed above are fulfilled. As mentioned above, there is also a similar law enacted specifically for California employees. This law is the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), and it states that an employer cannot deny an employee the right to take emergency leave on account of the above reasons.
So if you’re an employee in Los Angeles, these apply to you. Contact an experienced FMLA lawyer from a trusted employment law firm for the violations you’ve experienced from your employer.
What Leaves are Not Covered by FMLA & CFRA?
The prevailing laws only cover serious medical and family emergencies. Hence, if you want to undergo cosmetic surgery or accompany a loved one to a cosmetic procedure, this does not fall under FMLA and CFRA benefits. Instead, you may file for an ordinary leave subject to your employer’s approval. Also, unless inpatient care is needed due to unexpected complications or the procedure is due to reconstructive purposes due to an accident, cosmetic surgery is not a health emergency and, therefore, hinders you from invoking your right under the aforementioned laws.
Routine preventive physical examinations are also excluded from the prevailing laws. The same applies to common health problems in your family, like coughs and colds. These ailments are not considered as family emergencies serious enough to claim and merit leaves under FMLA or CFRA.
Another difference between the FMLA and CFRA is how they recognize pregnancy and pregnancy-related disabilities. Pregnancy-related disabilities are only covered under the FMLA and not under CFRA. This is because, under the CFRA, pregnancy is not considered as a severe medical condition. Therefore the employee involved is only entitled to her 12-week leaves under the FMLA and not under the CFRA. However, upon birth, the employee may take a new-child bonding leave under CFRA for up to 12 workweeks. This can only be granted if the employee did not use the CFRA leaves in the preceding 12-month period.
Seek Legal Assistance from Top FMLA Attorneys
If you or any of your co-workers were not allowed the above leaves or experienced workplace retaliation or harassment after obtaining said leaves, then you have a right to file damages against your employer. However, if you are claiming damages under the FMLA, you should know that there are minimum standards you need to comply with in order to be eligible under the law.
Therefore, if you want to make sure that you get the highest compensation you deserve for violation of your FMLA rights, the best thing to do is seek help from Mesriani Law Group’s Family Medical Leave Act lawyers in Los Angeles. Their FMLA lawyers have decades of experience in providing top awards for employment and labor law claims.