California FMLA Laws: Your Legal Right to Medical Leave

Your health is one of your most important assets. If you don’t take care of yourself, everything from your personal life to your work performance suffers. That’s why it’s so important to take the time you need to recover after a medical event.

As a whole, the US lags behind the rest of the world regarding time off for healthcare. California is one of the best states for protecting residents’ medical leave rights, but it’s still not perfect. If you need time off, you should understand your rights and how the law protects them. Here’s what you need to know about California medical leave laws.

California and FMLA

California employers have to follow two laws regarding employee health leave. First, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to every employer with more than 50 employees. It requires that these companies give their staff up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year for specific health events.

Second, California has its own law, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). This law is similar to the FMLA, but it applies to companies with just five employees.

Both laws specifically prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who use this leave. That means that your employer cannot legally fire you for using your time off. They cannot demote you, either.

Are You Eligible for California Medical Leave?

You need to meet specific requirements to be eligible for leave. You’re eligible if:

  • You’ve been employed by your company for at least one year
  • You’ve worked there for at least 1250 hours over the past year
  • Your employer has had more than 5 employees for 20 weeks of the last year

If all these things are true, you are eligible for leave if a qualifying health event occurs. These events include:

  • Recovering from a severe health condition
  • Caring for a parent, spouse, or child’s serious health condition
  • Bonding with a new child
  • Handling specific problems that come from a family member’s military service

What to Do If You’ve Been Unjustly Fired

If you’re fired, and you think it’s because you took time off for your health, that’s wrongful termination. You should do three things right away:

  1. Collect relevant medical documents. Severe health conditions usually lead to a lot of paperwork. Collect diagnoses, x-rays, medical records, and accident reports. This is evidence that there was a genuine health problem.
  2. Collect proof of the reason you were fired. Ask your employer why you were fired. Find out if other people were fired around the same time or if there’s a trend of people getting fired around health events.
  3. Get legal help. If you’re newly unemployed and facing health problems, you don’t have time to worry about fighting legal battles alone. Contact the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and get an attorney.  

Take Back Your Dignity

It’s never fair for your employer to fire you because of a health problem. If you’ve been unjustly fired for using your right to time off, you have options. Reach out to an experienced workers’ rights attorney to learn more.

You don’t have to fight alone. Get the help you need to receive the compensation you deserve. You can discuss your case and learn about your options. You can fight for your rights and reclaim your dignity today.