For many employees, a new child in the family creates an emotional conflict between the need to be at work and the need to be at home. California law currently allows parents to take unpaid leave in order to bond with a new child. Unfortunately, this only applies to employers over a certain size, and millions of workers in California have been left without the legal right to parental leave. Now, a new bill signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in October 2017 will extend child bonding leave to employees of small businesses, as well. Continue reading
Employees’ rights to take family leave are protected by federal law. The Family Medical Leave Act ensures that employees will not be terminated for taking leaves of absence for qualifying circumstances. California employees whose rights are violated can take legal action against their employers.
According to the Department of Labor, the FMLA provides employees with up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave per year. The employee may not be fired during this time, and group health benefits must be maintained by the employer. Qualifying family leave can be obtained for: birth or care of a newborn; placement of a foster or adoptive child with the employee; to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition; or when the employee is unable to work due to a serious health condition. Despite the fact that FMLA has been the law since 1993, employers continue to violate this law.
FMLA, or the Family and Medical Leave Act, is a federal statute that guarantees certain employees up to 12 work-weeks worth of unpaid leave annually, without fear of losing their job. The law requires that workers covered by the law maintain worker health benefits during this time, and is intended to help workers balance their family and work responsibilities by granting them the ability to take a reasonable amount of unpaid leave for certain medical and family reasons. It also seeks to help the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal opportunity for men and women. It can be used in a number of different circumstances, including the birth of a child or to care for an immediate family member or spouse who is suffering a serious health condition.
In the recent case of Chumbley v. Board of Education for Peoria District 150, a school district employee has filed an FMLA lawsuit in federal court in Illinois, alleging he was fired because he went on FMLA leave act. As the Society for Human Resource Management reports, the district fired him while he was on leave, with administrators insisting it was because two unrelated performance-related issues were discovered during that time. However, a remark made by plaintiff’s supervisor regarding his FMLA leave supports his claim that the termination was in large part due to the fact that he took this protected leave.
According to court records, plaintiff was hired in 2005 as a director of research, testing and assessment. The position was to last three years, after which time it would be renewed automatically every year, unless the district gave notice that it wouldn’t be renewed by April of the contract year. In March 2010, the district informed plaintiff that it intended to reassign him to a teaching post, but then re-hired him as a director position as an employee-at-will. Continue reading
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal statute intended to enable workers who need to take leave for legitimate personal and family needs and medical reasons to do so without retribution. A company that retaliates against a worker for using these guaranteed safety net can be held liable in court and ordered to pay damages to the worker.
In the case of Sharif v. United Airlines, Inc., a plaintiff argued this was exactly what happened to him. However, the employer argued the worker had fraudulently taken FMLA leave in order to extend his vacation and further that he made dishonest representations when the company launched an investigation of it.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ultimately sided with the employer, finding the worker had not established a triable issue of fact that the airline truly fired him for taking leave, rather than fraudulently taking leave and then lying about it. Continue reading
A new report on Caregivers in the Workplace, published by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law, explores the ways in which family responsibilities have long been a source of workplace discrimination, and how the legal landscape is changing.
The report refers to this type of illegal action as “family responsibilities discrimination,” and it stems from an employer’s unwillingness to allow workers to tend to caregiving duties – i.e., pregnancy, motherhood, fatherhood care for family members who are sick or have disabilities and caring for aging or ill parents. The report was based on information from 4,400 family responsibilities discrimination cases.
What researchers are finding in many of theses instances is that employers still don’t seem to understand what their obligations are. They don’t get workers’ rights, they don’t understand what family responsibility discrimination is and they aren’t taking the time to learn how they might be liable for it. Continue reading
A new study conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Families revealed that California is No. 1 in the country for workplace protections for new parents.
Parents and those who are expecting can generally expect a better work-life balance in California than anywhere else in the country, according to researchers in the study, “Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help Expecting and New Parents.” The study looked at the measures states have taken – or not taken – to add to the protections of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), specifically with regard to protections for new parents. Those provisions of the act were added in 1993.
California had the best initiatives in terms of:
- Paid sick days
- Paid family medical leave
- Accommodations for pregnancy
- Protections at work that went above and beyond FMLA for expecting and nursing moms
A recent study by the Center for Worklife Law at the University of California’s Hastings Law School revealed that, after years being discriminated against for taking family leave to which they are entitled, workers are fighting back. Specifically, they are pursuing FMLA discrimination lawsuits (Family Medical Leave Act) at an increasing clip.
Many are new parents who face discrimination during pregnancy or right after having a new child. Others are caregivers who are taking on responsibilities of caring for a sick relative.
The other thing the report revealed? The aggregate win rate on FMLA discrimination lawsuits is about 67 percent of the cases that go to trial, which is about five times higher than other types of employment lawsuits. That assumes you are a good, diligent worker who has been the victim of what you believe to be discrimination. (Keep in mind too, cases may be settled to your advantage far in advance of trial.) Continue reading
According to a recent news feature from Benefits News, a new labor law taking effect in 2018 will increase the amount of pay for family leave based upon a percentage of their average weekly wages during normal (not overtime) working hours.
The state employment law will provide California’s workers with six week of paid family leave, and this will be administered through a state unemployment provision of the labor code. While this may sound confusing, Governor Jerry Brown signed Bill 908 into law that will require workers in California to have 55 percent of their average weekly wages paid for up to six weeks a year if that employee decided to take the up to six weeks of family leave to which all workers are entitled each year. Continue reading
According to a recent news article from Capital Public Radio, a new law has taken effect in the state of California that is designed to protect workers who need to take off time from work to handle a school emergency with their children or to enroll the child in daycare or school.
This legislation was authorized by California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat representing Santa Barbara, and she said the new law reflects a modest change to help working families make ends meet while taking care of their children and making sure they get a good education. Continue reading
The Family and Medical Leave Act – also routinely referred to as “FMLA” – entitles most workers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Workers can take up to 12 months in a given period, and it can be for anything from the birth of a child (within one year) to the serious health condition of a spouse to an illness that renders the employee unable to work.
What many people don’t realize about this act is that the time to which they are entitled doesn’t necessarily need to be taken all at once.
For example, if a worker injures her back and her doctor grants permission to take periodic time off work as needed for pain, there are allowances for that.