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Wrongful Termination and Medical Leave Laws in California

Wrongful Termination and Medical Leave Laws

As an “at will” employment state, California gives employers and workers the right to terminate their relationship whenever they want. While the law is intended to give employers and workers the freedom to move on if a new job opportunity presents itself or if the employee is not performing up to expectations, some employers can terminate the employee. However, not all terminations are done with the best of intent.

For workers in California, it is important that they know their rights. Here are some situations where not all employees are aware of their rights.

Being terminated when you take medical leave. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), private companies that have 50 or more employees are required to give their workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year for a specific reason. All state, local and federal employees are eligible for this unpaid leave time too.  The FMLA makes it illegal for an employer to stop you, fire you or treat you unjustly when you use your rights to take medical leave.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is a similar law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period. This law allows workers to take leave in the event of:

  • The birth of a child, adoption of a child, or placing a child into foster care;
  • To be a caregiver to an immediate family member;
  • When the worker has a serious health condition that prevents him or her from working.

California also gives pregnant employees up to 16 weeks of leave under the Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). Employers with five or more employees are subject to this law. The new mother can then take a 12-week baby-bonding leave under CFRA.

Under CFRA and PDL, the employees on leave keep the same employer-paid health benefits they had while working.

Some employers will attempt to use time off requests as a reason to fire their employees. An increase in written warnings could occur before you leave for time off or your boss can have a hostile attitude toward you upon your return. Retaliation for a protected act, such as taking time off for a pregnancy or health emergency, is considered wrongful termination under California law.

California discrimination laws prohibit employers firing employees for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and medical conditions. Retaliation for requesting to take family leave or a medical leave is also illegal for employers.

With an experienced attorney at your side, your chances of recovering a settlement may be higher. You may be entitled to lose wages, lost benefits, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.

Proving wrongful termination is a complicated matter. Normally an unlawful termination case can incorporate federal, state, and even local law. The attorneys at Yarian & Associates, APC are experienced in employment law and wrongful termination. Our attorneys are practiced in litigation and treat our clients with compassion. Call us at (844)291-1911 or contact us on our website to see what we can do for you.

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