Family & Medical Leave (FMLA) Attorney

For most, health, family and work are life’s top priorities. Unfortunately, sometimes our health and family obligations–like taking time off to recover from an illness, care for a sick family member or bond with a newborn–conflict with our work responsibilities and can even put our jobs at risk. This is why the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) were enacted. These laws are designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by entitling them to unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons.

Regrettably though, many employers ignore medical and family leave laws. If you find yourself in this situation, the FMLA Attorneys at Pimentel Law can protect your rights in California.

Family and medical leave is a protected right under both federal and California law. The two laws are very similar and have considerable overlap. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the protections provided by each law.

FEDERAL v. STATE FAMILY & MEDICAL LEAVE OVERVIEW

FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA)

CAL FAMILY RIGHTS ACT (CFRA)

EMPLOYER COVERAGE 50 employees or more. 50 employees or more.
EMPLOYEE ELIGIBILITY Employees who (1) have been employed for at least 12 months; (2) have worked at least 1250 hours during the 12-month period prior to taking leave; and (3) work at a location where 50 or more people are employed within 75 miles of that worksite. Employees who (1) have been employed for at least 12 months; (2) have worked at least 1250 hours during the 12-month period prior to taking leave; and (3) work at a location where 50 or more people are employed within 75 miles of that worksite.
REASONS FOR LEAVE Leave may be taken (1) for the employee’s serious health condition; (2) to care for the employee’s child, parent, or spouse who has a serious health condition; (3) for the birth or adoption of the employee’s child or the placement of a foster child with the employee; (4) because of a “qualifying exigency that arises because the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is on “covered active duty” or has been notified of an impending call to “covered active duty”; or (5) by an employee who is the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member to care for him or her. Leave may be taken (1) for the employee’s serious health condition; (2) to care for the employee’s child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, or child of a registered domestic partner who has a serious health condition; or (3) for the birth or adoption of a child or placement of a foster child with the employee.
LENGTH OF LEAVE Up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period. If employee is the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty while on active duty, employee is entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for the service member. Up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period.
EMPLOYEE’S RIGHT TO RETURN TO WORK Employee is entitled to be returned to same position held when leave began or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. Employee must be returned to the same or comparable position at the end of the leave, unless employment would have ended regardless of whether employee had taken leave or employee is a “key employee.”
DISCHARGE OF EMPLOYEE DURING LEAVE OR ON EXPIRATION OF LEAVE Employee may be fired during leave if position would have been eliminated had employee continued to work instead of taking leave. Employment may be terminated on expiration of leave if employee (1) fails to return to work and is not entitled to leave under any other law; (2) can no longer perform essential functions of job because of a physical or mental condition; (3) is a “key employee” under FMLA and denial of reinstatement is necessary to prevent substantial economic injury to employer; or (4) employee fraudulently obtained FMLA leave. Employee may be fired during leave if position would have been eliminated regardless of whether employee took leave. Employment may be terminated on expiration of leave if employee (1) fails to return to work and is not entitled to leave under any other law; (2) can no longer perform essential functions of job because of a physical or mental condition; (3) is a “key employee” under FMLA and denial of reinstatement is necessary to prevent substantial economic injury to employer.

FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA)

EMPLOYER COVERAGE 50 employees or more.
EMPLOYEE ELIGIBILITY Employees who (1) have been employed for at least 12 months; (2) have worked at least 1250 hours during the 12-month period prior to taking leave; and (3) work at a location where 50 or more people are employed within 75 miles of that worksite.
REASONS FOR LEAVE Leave may be taken (1) for the employee’s serious health condition; (2) to care for the employee’s child, parent, or spouse who has a serious health condition; (3) for the birth or adoption of the employee’s child or the placement of a foster child with the employee; (4) because of a “qualifying exigency that arises because the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is on “covered active duty” or has been notified of an impending call to “covered active duty”; or (5) by an employee who is the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member to care for him or her.
LENGTH OF LEAVE Up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period. If employee is the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty while on active duty, employee is entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for the service member.
EMPLOYEE’S RIGHT TO RETURN TO WORK Employee is entitled to be returned to same position held when leave began or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.
DISCHARGE OF EMPLOYEE DURING LEAVE OR ON EXPIRATION OF LEAVE Employee may be fired during leave if position would have been eliminated had employee continued to work instead of taking leave. Employment may be terminated on expiration of leave if employee (1) fails to return to work and is not entitled to leave under any other law; (2) can no longer perform essential functions of job because of a physical or mental condition; (3) is a “key employee” under FMLA and denial of reinstatement is necessary to prevent substantial economic injury to employer; or (4) employee fraudulently obtained FMLA leave.

CAL FAMILY RIGHTS ACT (CFRA)

EMPLOYER COVERAGE 50 employees or more.
EMPLOYEE ELIGIBILITY Employees who (1) have been employed for at least 12 months; (2) have worked at least 1250 hours during the 12-month period prior to taking leave; and (3) work at a location where 50 or more people are employed within 75 miles of that worksite.
REASONS FOR LEAVE Leave may be taken (1) for the employee’s serious health condition; (2) to care for the employee’s child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, or child of a registered domestic partner who has a serious health condition; or (3) for the birth or adoption of a child or placement of a foster child with the employee.
LENGTH OF LEAVE Up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period.
EMPLOYEE’S RIGHT TO RETURN TO WORK Employee must be returned to the same or comparable position at the end of the leave, unless employment would have ended regardless of whether employee had taken leave or employee is a “key employee.”
DISCHARGE OF EMPLOYEE DURING LEAVE OR ON EXPIRATION OF LEAVE Employee may be fired during leave if position would have been eliminated regardless of whether employee took leave. Employment may be terminated on expiration of leave if employee (1) fails to return to work and is not entitled to leave under any other law; (2) can no longer perform essential functions of job because of a physical or mental condition; (3) is a “key employee” under FMLA and denial of reinstatement is necessary to prevent substantial economic injury to employer.

Am I Entitled to Paid Family and Medical Leave?

Although the FMLA and CFRA entitle qualified employees to a protected family or medical leave of absence, that leave is unfortunately unpaid. However, an employee may be able to receive compensation while on FMLA/CFRA leave by:

  • Using accrued vacation, sick leave or other paid leave
  • Using an employer-paid family leave policy or disability leave plan
  • Qualifying for wage replacement under the State Disability Insurance (SDI) or California Unemployment Insurance Code’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program

Challenges You May Experience with Employers

Many employers will deny family and medical leave even when an employee qualifies for it. Other employers find ways to penalize employees who take leave, like reassigning employees to less desirable positions upon their return to work. If you encounter this type of behavior after exercising or attempting to exercise your family and medical leave rights, contact our FMLA attorneys to help.

Other unacceptable actions that employers may take against you for taking leave include:

  • Discontinuing health insurance
  • Pressuring you to return from your leave prematurely
  • Disciplining you for taking your leave
  • Failing to make you aware of your family and medical leave rights
  • Unreasonably denying that you meet eligibility requirements for taking family and medical leave

Some employers will even terminate employees who take or attempt to take a family or medical leave. If this happens, you should immediately seek the counsel of an FMLA attorney to determine your next steps. Our experienced FMLA attorneys in Los Angeles will help you recover financial compensation for your losses.

Seek the Help of an Employment Attorney Today

If you have suffered an adverse employment action at work as a result of taking or attempting to take a family or medical leave, contact Pimentel Law for the leading FMLA attorneys in Los Angeles.

At Pimentel Law, we can help you receive the leave rights you’re entitled to, help you reclaim the higher salary you earned before your leave or even reinstate you to your prior position.

Contact us today to learn more about how an FMLA attorney can help you protect your family and medical leave rights in California.

Schedule a free case evaluation, contact us today.