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In 2015, Employee Rights Expand by California Family Rights Act

In 2015, the California Fair Employment and Housing Council will provide employees with additional workplace discrimination protections under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”). The CFRA is California’s version of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and offers expanded employee rights. See the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s CFRA site for more information.

The five most important updated regulations in the revised CFRA are:

(1) added protections of employees’ rights with reinstatement upon return to work;

(2) employer prohibition from contacting the employee’s health care provider except to verify a medical certification (this is more protection than FMLA which allows medical facts to be provided to employers);

(3) employer requirement to engage employees in an interactive process if the reason for the leave was also based on disability which results in the employee unable to return to work upon conclusion of the CFRA leave;

(4) expanded penalties for failure to return a certification of healthcare provider form which has been updated to protect the employee’s constitutional right to privacy;

(5) strengthened employer requirements to provide payment of group health plan while employee is on leave.

In general, the CFRA provides employee rights and ensures the secure leave for those who experience such life events as (1) the birth of a child, (2) adoption, (3) serious health condition to a child, parent, or spouse, or (4) serious health condition to the employee. Unlike the employer’s responsibility to provide the employee with 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the employer is required to pay the employee during a CFRA leave if the employee elects, or the employer requires, the use of any accrued paid leave other than regular sick leave.

Both the CFRA and the FMLA prohibit workplace retaliation or discrimination against employees for exercising their lawful rights to protected leave. To be entitled to protected leave, the employee must have worked for a least the previous 12 months and totaled a minimum of 1,250 hours (roughly equivalent to 24 hours per week). In addition, the employer must have at least 50 locally-based employees.

California workers who believe they suffered from CFRA and FMLA discrimination or retaliation should contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates to discuss their rights and legal options. See these other Blogs for more information on workplace discrimination.