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Understanding FMLA protections for California workers

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, workers may be allowed to take leave without employer retaliation. However, this leave must be qualified and the FMLA does not apply to all employers. The act applies only to companies who have at least 50 employees, and only to workers who have been employed for at least 12 months.

Both employers and employees need to communicate with each other if any action is taken under the act. Employees must provide notice to employers if they wish to take qualified leave. Sufficient notice is defined as 30 days or as much time is practicable. Employers must provide notice to employees of their rights by placing notices and creating a handbook to help all employees to better understand what qualifies under this piece of legislation.

Employers may still terminate employees who are taking a leave under the act. If an employer has committed fraud or insubordination, that employee can be terminated before, during or after returning from leave. An employee may also be terminated if that employee would have otherwise been terminated notwithstanding a request for leave under FMLA. That employee may also be laid off if it is necessary to reduce the workforce at a given company.

Although employees are generally protected from discrimination at work, smaller companies may not need to adhere to certain legislation. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to hire an employment attorney to help an employee figure out if he or she has been retaliated against illegally. If an employee has been fired, demoted or otherwise discriminated against after taking protected FMLA leave, it may be possible to win compensation or possible reinstatement to a former position.

Source: FindLaw, "Walking the FMLA Termination Tightrope", October 05, 2014

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