Employees often need to take long periods of time from work for a variety of reasons. Fortunately for these individuals, they generally have the right to do so. If your employer does not allow you to take medical leave, or forces you to take medical leave without pay, you may have a legal claim against your employer. Employers in the United States must follow both state and federal laws when it comes to providing leave.medical benefits

The maze of laws surrounding paid sick and medical leave in California is complicated enough to confuse any employee and our experienced team of employment attorneys is here to help you. Under California law, employers with less than 50 employees are not legally required to provide workers with either paid or unpaid sick leave. For larger businesses with 50 or more employees, both state and federal law requires workers be given the right to unpaid sick leave, which includes leave because of a serious health condition of the employee or to care for an ill child, parent, spouse, domestic partner or the child of a domestic partner.

Examples of Medical Leave Violations

California employers must post notice for employees that clearly explains family leave rights. Additionally, before the employee takes time off for family or medical leave, the employer must guarantee to reinstate the employee to the same or a comparable position.

Employers regularly violate federal and state medical leaves laws. Examples of these violations include:

  • Failing to recognize serious health conditions.
  • Disciplining employees for excessive absences.
  • Employers must provide eligible employees with a series of notices of their FMLA rights.
  • Requiring employees to give too much notice.
  • Failing to inform employees of their rights and obligations.
  • Failing to recognize employee notice.

Family and Medical Leave Act

Under federal law, the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees are allowed up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period. The leave may be used for a variety of reasons, including (1) birth and care of the employee’s child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee; (2) care of an immediate family member, such as a spouse, child, or parent, who has a serious health condition; or (3) care of the employee’s own serious health condition. Additionally, the FMLA requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave. The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees and all public (government) employers.

California Medical Leave

Has your employer prevented you from taking paid medical leave? You might be able to bring a lawsuit for unpaid wages. Under California law, the Paid Family Leave Act requires an employer to provide up to six weeks of paid benefits when a full-time employee cannot work because he or she needs to care for a parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, or to bond with a new child. In 2014, the law expanded to allow time off to care for siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and parents-in-law.

Second, California’s Family Rights Act requires the employer of a full-time employee to provide unpaid leave to provide care for a parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, or to bond with a new child, or for the employee’s own serious health condition. Leave is allowed for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period. The employee may choose, or the employer may require, that the employee use any earned but unused vacation time or other leave, including sick leave, during this time away. This is where things can get tricky, so make sure your employer is providing you with the paid time leave that the law requires.

Pregnancy Leave in California

Pregnancy leave is also covered under the Family Rights Act. California employers with at least five employees must give employees a reasonable period of leave for disability relating to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. Your employer’s definition of reasonable may not actually be reasonable according to California law. We will help you determine whether or not your employer has allowed you the pregnancy leave you deserve.

California also provides leave for temporary disability, which is funded by withholding from employee paychecks. Eligible employees who are unable to work due to a temporary disability (including pregnancy) may receive up to 55% of their usual wages.

Taking Time Off in California

Under California law, you are not required to take your medical leave all at once. You may request leave in shorter increments and if you do, have the right to be transferred temporarily to a position better suited to your new schedule. Your employer may require medical certification for an employee taking leave to care for his or her own illness or to care for a new family member, but privacy laws protect the type of information an employee is required to provide. It is not necessary to provide a doctor’s note for time bonding with a new baby.

Filing a Medical Leave Claim Against Your Employer

If your employer has violated the FMLA or California’s medical leave laws, you may be able to recover:

  • Wages
  • Employment benefits
  • Monetary loss, such as the cost of providing care to a family member
  • Interest
  • Reinstatement

This list is not exhaustive. Contact the Orange County employment lawyers at Hardin & Lott today to discuss your legal rights and potential for financial compensation.

The Right Employment Law Attorneys

If you have been mistreated by your employer, contact Hardin & Lott, an employment law firm with offices in Los Angeles and Orange County with experience in representing employees just like you.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by an illegal labor/employment practice, you want experience and success on your side. Contact the knowledgeable lawyers at Hardin & Lott today.

(949) 337-4810, (310) 606-2122, or (844) 615-1122

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