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
All of this is great news. But of course, it doesn’t mean such issues and disputes are non-existent in California. The report noted that while many states have gotten better in this regard, “Every state has room for improvement and most states aren’t doing nearly enough.”
A 2014 Wall Street Journal report reveals that lawsuits filed under FMLA in 2013 spiked from 877 from 291 just one year earlier. The good news is that the proof burden in these cases is substantially lower than in some other employment lawsuits. For example, in other types of discrimination lawsuits, workers usually have to prove the employer intended discrimination. In FMLA cases, workers need only show the employer somehow deterred him or her from taking the leave or interrupted the leave.
Part of the reason for the increase in cases has to do with the fact that more people are becoming familiar with their rights under FMLA. Plus, workers have the right to recover double what they lost on wages or cost of family care if FMLA is wrongly denied (though they cannot collect punitive damages in these cases).
Within the recent study, California and New York were the only two states to receive an “A” grade when it came to expansion and protection of new parents’ rights. Of the 12 states that got an “F” grade, all but Missouri are “right-to-work” states. Such right-to-work laws, in place in 26 states nationally, serve to weaken union organizing and collective bargaining rights.
A handful of those with “F” grades received them largely for failure to expand upon certain federal protections for expecting or new parents employed in the private sector of industry.
Researchers credit California cities with spurring the family-friendly laws that not only improved conditions for their own workers, but created a culture in which workers have come to expect those rights. Just recently, California’s rating further improved when it passed a sick day law. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, all employees who work for the same employer for at least 30 days in a year and satisfy a 90-day probationary period are entitled to sick leave. The exact amount of that leave depends on the kind of plan employers choose to offer in order to be in compliance with the law. In some cases, workers accrue sick days over time (i.e., one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work) or at least 24 hours of sick leave or PTO by the 120th calendar day of employment.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Study: California Best State for Laws to Help Working Parents, Aug. 17, 2016, By Seth Sandronsky, Capital & Main
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Waitress Minimum Wage Lawsuit Targets Side Work Duties, Aug. 18, 2016, Orange County FMLA Lawyer Blog