The FMLA and California Employees

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a Federal law that protects employees and provides for unpaid leave due to qualified family or medical reasons. Based off of President Bill Clinton’s initiative, the FMLA was enacted in 1993 partially in response to a growing number of women in the workforce and an underlying belief that people should not have to choose between bonding with their children and their job security.

Under the FMLA, an employee is entitled to 12 weeks of protected, unpaid leave over each 12 month period for events such as:

  1. Medical leave due to a serious health condition
  2. Leave to care for a relative with a serious medical condition
  3. The birth of a child or the placement of an adoptive child; or (4) qualifying exigent circumstances related to active military duty.

The California Family Rights Act

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is California’s adoption of the FMLA, and offers substantially similar protections to California employees. While California employees are covered by both the CFRA and FMLA, it is significant to know that they run concurrently with each other, and do not offer stacking leave. Further, if you work for a California employer, there are several notable differences you should be aware of.

  • Pregnancy disability. Under the FMLA, pregnant employees who have a disabling condition related to the pregnancy qualify for job-protected leave as a serious health condition under the FMLA. The same cannot be said of the CFRA, which only covers leave to bond with a child after they are born. However, the employee may qualify for Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL), which is a separate type of leave.
  • Active duty family member. Under the FMLA, an employee is entitled to protection under qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status as a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces. Under the CFRA, this protection does not exist.
  • Domestic partnerships and civil unions. The U.S. Supreme Court essentially legalized same-sex marriages nation wide in United States v. Windsor, which now protects same-sex spouses in legal marriages for FMLA purposes. However, this FMLA protection does not extend to same-sex partners in domestic partnerships or civil unions. The CFRA, in contrast, treats same-sex partners from domestic partnerships and civil unions the same as spouses are treated for protected-leave purposes.

Patient Signing Papers in Hospital Bed

Contact Moss Bollinger

The FMLA and CFRA are designed to protect your job when you have a qualifying medical or family event. If your employer is denying your leave, contact us. At Moss Bollinger, we understand your legal rights and have proudly fought against the unlawful acts of employers since 2008. We charge no fees up front and only get paid if you do. Call us today at (866) 535-2994 for a free consultation or complete our online form.

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