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Know Your Medical & Family Leave Rights in California

When you or a loved one experiences a serious health condition that requires you to take time off from work, the stress from worrying about keeping your job may add to an already difficult situation. California law recognizes that an employee's job should not be jeopardized just because they must take a leave of absence in order to attend to these responsibilities.

The  California Family Rights Act (CFRA) (which is the state equivalent of the FMLA, Family Medical Leave Act) provides job-protected leave for employees who need to take time away from work for health-related reasons, including:

  • Maternity leave

  • Childbirth 

  • Baby bonding (including adoption) 

  • Severe medical  conditions and/or injuries

  • To care for a family member (including a grandparent, grandchild, sibling, domestic partner, and domestic partner's child) experiencing severe health conditions and/or injuries

  • A qualifying emergency related to a spouse, child, or parent serving on active duty or called to active duty in the military.

If you are a California employee, you should know that the CFRA in some significant ways provides greater protections to you than the FMLA, such as a lower employee threshold at your company to trigger the requirement that your employer offer protected medical leave under CFRA. 

Under CFRA and FMLA eligible employees are entitled to 12 workweeks of leave in a year. During an employee's protected leave, an employer must maintain the employee's existing level of coverage under a group health plan. At the end of protected leave, an employer must reinstate an employee into the same or equivalent job. Employers are not permitted to interfere with an employee's ability to take CFRA leave or retaliate or discriminate against an employee who takes leave for approved reasons under FMLA and CFRA.

If you believe you've been a victim of FMLA or CFRA discrimination in the workplace, contact our experienced Bay Area counsel today.

Eligibility Requirements for CFRA

Who is eligible for CFRA leave? As of January 2023, to be eligible for leave under CFRA, employees must meet certain requirements:

  • The employee must be employed by the employer for at least 12 months before the beginning of the leave.

  • The employee must wait 12 months from the time the first FMLA or CFRA leave is taken before taking another leave.

  • The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before a leave.

  • The employer must employ at least 5 employees.

Eligibility Requirements for FMLA

Under the Family & Medical Leave Act, the following employers are required to offer FMLA coverage:

  • Public agencies

  • Schools

  • Employers in the private sector who have employed 50 or more individuals during 20 or more workweeks in the present or previous calendar year.

CFRA and FMLA Violations

Wondering if your employer has violated your CFRA/FMLA rights? Here are a few examples of prohibited conduct:

  • Denying FMLA or CFRA leave to qualified employees

  • Dissuading an employee from taking FMLA or CFRA leave

  • Altering an employee's work hours to evade FMLA or CFRA obligations

  • Using FMLA or CFRA leave requests or usage against an employee in employment decisions

  • Denying insurance coverage to an employee on FMLA/CFRA leave

  • Including FMLA or CFRA leave in "no fault" attendance records

Contact an Experienced FMLA Lawyer in San Francisco

If you believe your employer has violated your FMLA and/or CFRA rights, contact our San Francisco FMLA counsel. The team at The Sampath Law Firm is highly knowledgeable in medical leave laws and can help you understand what your rights are. Contact our office for legal advice or if you believe you have a potential case.

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At The Sampath Law Firm, we focus on employment law and we are here to listen to you and help you navigate the legal system.

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The Sampath Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about employment-related law issues and other workplace injustices in California.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.