What Laws Protect an Employee’s Leave Rights?

The FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act ) and the CFRA (California Family Rights Act) are laws that legally protect employees who need to have time off from work. If your rights under either of these laws are violated by your employer, contact a San Francisco employment rights attorney as quickly as possible.

Specifically, what do the FMLA and the CFRA provide? How do they protect your employment and leave rights in California? What are the similarities and differences between the CFRA and the FMLA? And when should you contact a San Francisco employment rights lawyer?

Keep reading this brief discussion of the FMLA, the CFRA, and your employment rights, and you will learn the answers to these questions, but if an employer in this state violates your rights, you will also need the personalized legal services that a California employment lawyer offers.

What is the CFRA?

The California Family Rights Act is a California state law that lets qualified employees take up to twelve unpaid or paid weeks of leave for medical and family reasons. Reasons for requesting a leave under the California Family Rights Act may include:

  1.  a child’s birth
  2.  a health condition making it difficult for the employee to perform at work
  3.  a health condition affecting an employee’s child, spouse, or parent

What is the FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that lets qualified employees take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in a twelve-month period – without risking the loss of the job – for reasons that may include:

  1.  a child’s birth and care, including prenatal medical appointments
  2.  the care and placement of a child for adoption or foster care
  3.  a health condition making it difficult for the employee to perform at work
  4.  a health condition affecting an employee’s child, spouse, or parent

The Family and Medical Leave Act also lets qualified employees take up to twenty-six weeks of leave for a military family member’s injury or illness. For most employees, both the CFRA and the FMLA guarantee reinstatement to the same position or a comparable position at the end of the leave.

Who is a “Qualified” Employee Under the FMLA?

You must meet the three conditions listed below in order to be covered by the FMLA and entitled by the FMLA to unpaid leave for twelve weeks each year without putting your job at risk:

  1.  You suffer a serious medical condition, or you need to care for a member of your family who suffers a serious medical condition, or you are pregnant or suffering with a pregnancy-related condition, or you have a newborn child to care for.
  2.  You have worked a year or more for your employer, and you have worked for that employer for 1,250 or more hours in the preceding twelve months.
  3.  At least fifty employees work for your employer within a seventy-five-mile radius of your workplace.

How Do the CFRA and the FMLA Differ?

Many of their provisions are similar, so it is not unusual for employees and even employers to confuse the California Family Rights Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. For working people in California, these are the important differences between the two statutes:

  1. The FMLA is a federal law, while the CFRA is exclusive to California.
  2.  Pregnancy qualifies under the FMLA. The CFRA only covers pregnancy complications.
  3.  The FMLA requires far more documentation of eligibility than the CFRA.

How Do These Laws Work for Employees?

If an employee qualifies for leave under the FMLA, that person can take leave for up to twelve weeks along with the twelve weeks available under the CFRA. Thus, a qualified employee may have twenty-four weeks of leave to take care of his or her family over the course of a year.

Employers in California may not discriminate or retaliate in any way against an employee who asks for or takes leave legally under the FMLA or the CFRA. These laws ensure that employees may take time off from work and keep their jobs while taking care of their families and health.

Is Your Employer Adhering to the Law?

While California leads the nation in the protection of employment rights, there are still employers in this state who don’t always comply with the employment laws. How can you know if your own employer is in compliance with the FMLA and the CFRA?

  1. Ask to see the documentation which proves that your employer has been certified under FMLA and the CFRA.
  2.  Check with your employee handbook, which should spell out the company’s leave procedures and policies.
  3.  Ask to see the company’s printed policies regarding leave and related benefits.

If you are unable to determine whether or not your employer is compliant with the Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act, schedule a consultation with a San Francisco employment rights lawyer who will help you determine your coverage and your rights.

When Should You Contact an Employment Attorney?

With help from the right California employment lawyer, you can make certain that you are receiving all of your entitlements and benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act.

If you are disputing with an employer or ex-employer over wages, hours, leave, overtime pay, or benefits, or if you’ve been a victim of employer retaliation, exercise your rights. Arrange to meet with a San Francisco employment rights attorney to discuss those rights and your legal options.

Geonetta & Frucht Can Help

In the San Francisco Bay Area, where can you find help with your employment rights? The attorneys at Geonetta & Frucht have more than five decades of combined legal experience. We offer advice and representation to employees in the Bay Area and throughout California.

We discuss your personal employment situation and develop an effective, practical strategy for meeting your legal needs. If an employer is violating your rights, your first legal consultation with Geonetta & Frucht is provided with no cost or obligation. If you take legal action and bring a claim against an employer, you’ll owe no lawyer’s fee until and unless you are compensated.

If your leave rights under the FMLA or the CFRA have been violated by your employer, or if you are a victim of hiring discrimination, on-the-job harassment, wrongful termination, or a wage-and-hour violation, contact the law offices of Geonetta & Frucht immediately at 510-254-3777.

Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

Frederick J. Geonetta is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law. His legal practice is entirely devoted to litigation. Mr. Geonetta has spent the past 25 years in private practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants who have been harmed or wronged by the actions of others or who have been falsely accused of causing harm to others. He represents clients across the U.S. and international clients who seek U.S. legal advice or representation.