Protecting Your Rights Under FMLA

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.FMLA attorneys

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 Cases

FMLA cases are far from rare. A New Jersey employee filed a lawsuit against Blue Apron after being denied time off to recover from an E.Coli infection. Tech Crunch reports that Blue Apron did not allow the employee to document her condition nor prove that it did qualify under the Family Medical Leave Act. While the food delivery service undoubtedly was concerned about the infected employee’s proximity to food preparation areas, it is still obligated to comply with federal law.

In Illinois, a employer’s motion to dismiss an FMLA claim was denied, largely due to the statements of its own employees. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, a school district employee told his superintendent that he intended to take medical leave in order to  address his job-related anxiety. The employee also advised that he wanted to begin his leave in one month’s time, in order to resolve various matters in his department. At a Board session several days later, the superintendent called the request “frustrating”, because mental health leave requests were usually immediate, and did not have a delayed start date. In denying the school district’s motion to dismiss the case, the court found that this statement was sufficient evidence that the district intended to interfere with the employee’s FMLA rights. The case will therefore proceed to trial.

A recent FMLA lawsuit out of San Francisco hits close to home for California employees. The Northern California Record reports that a museum guard has sued the city, county, and Fine Arts Museums for FMLA violations. The guard alleges that he was denied leave for back injuries which interfered with the performance of his job duties. The lawsuit also alleges that the employer decided the guard was lying about his disability.  

Another Northern California case centered on a Sacramento City Councilwoman. According to the Sacramento Bee, a former staffer sued both the City of Sacramento and the councilwoman, though the councilwoman has been dismissed as a defendant. The staffer claimed that she was terminated for missing work, despite the fact that she had missed work to care for family members sickened by mold in their home. The City maintained that the councilwoman was never told the reasons for the staffer’s extended absences. The Sacramento Bee later reported that a jury reached a verdict in favor of the City after three hours of deliberations.

There are many different protections provided by the FMLA, and many different ways in which employers can violate these rights. Consult with an experienced Orange County FMLA lawyer to ensure that your family leave rights are protected.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.

Additional Resources:

City employee alleges San Francisco violated family leave law, August 31, 2017 by Wadi Reformado, Northern California Record

More Blog Entries:

More Workers Suing Over Family Leave Discrimination, July 4, 2016, Employment Lawyer Blog


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