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What to Do if Employer Rejects FMLA Leave in CA

Father and two toddlers washing up the dishes.

California state and federal laws guarantee employees the right to take protected leave for covered reasons, including for medical issues they suffer or to take care of a family member suffering from a covered medical issue. If your employer rejects your request for leave or retaliates against you for taking your protected leave, you have the right to fight back. Read on to understand your rights under California and federal law, including your options should your employer deny you those rights. If you’ve been denied your legal rights while on the job in Southern California, call a passionate Riverside labor & employment lawyer for help.

Rights Guaranteed Under FMLA and CFRA

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to take care of their own medical condition or to take care of an immediate family member with a medical condition, as well as to take care of a newborn child. Covered family members include the employee’s spouse, child, or parent. A “serious medical condition” means the employee is unable to perform their essential job duties. The FMLA applies to public agencies as well as employers who have at least 50 employees.

California law is even more expansive. Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), eligible California workers have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for their own serious health condition or to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to bond with a new child (parental leave). As of 2021, CFRA applies to private employers with 5 or more employees, as well as California state and local governments. Covered family members include spouses, domestic partners, children (minor or adult), parents, children of a domestic partner, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.

Remedies for Workers Denied Leave

If you’ve been denied protected leave, you have the right to object to your mistreatment. First of all, you should notify your employer that you have the legal right to take leave and see if they change their minds about the denial. If they continue to deny you your rights, a seasoned California employment lawyer can help you explore your options for relief.

A worker who is denied medical leave under CFRA can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The complaint must be filed within three years of the employer’s wrongful act. The DFEH may either conduct its own investigation or, upon your request, issue a right-to-sue notice. Once you have obtained the right to sue, you can file a complaint in civil court and pursue legal remedies with the help of a California labor law attorney.

If you can demonstrate that you were denied protected leave, you could be eligible for a number of remedies, including:

  • Any lost wages, benefits, or other compensation that resulted from the wrongful denial
  • Reinstatement of your job, if you were terminated
  • Financial damage incurred as a result of the wrongful denial
  • Interest on lost income and other compensation
  • Litigation costs and attorney fees
  • Additional damages for psychological harm and emotional distress

We Help You Fight for Your Protected Medical Leave

For help protecting your labor law rights in Southern California, call Ochoa & Calderón to discuss your case with an experienced, detail-oriented California labor and employment attorney. Call 951-901-4444 in Riverside or 844-401-0750 toll-free throughout Southern California.

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