New Updates on Accommodation, Retaliation, and California’s Family Rights Act

In this segment of ‘Weekly Employee Rights Update’, we aim to provide our employee subscribers with timely educational information from recent cases and laws.

New Workplace Protection to Employees Requesting Accommodation: Last week, the California Assembly finalized its review of a bill that will revise portions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) pertaining to employee requests for accommodation. Specifically, the changes to the law will make it unlawful for an employer to retaliate or otherwise discriminate against employees requesting an accommodation for physical or mental disability or religious belief, regardless of whether the request was granted. The legislation is in response to the recent Rope v. Auto-Clor System of Washington case where an employee was discriminated against in retaliation for merely making a request for reasonable accommodation. Currently, employees have no legal recourse if an employer terminates them for simply requesting a reasonable accommodation. After passage of this bill, a request for accommodation will become protected activity for purposes of retaliation under FEHA.

New Workplace Protection for Employees Related to Whistleblowers: Another bill under review would prevent employers from retaliating against employees who have family members who engaged in protected activities such as filing complaints with governmental agencies under Labor Code sections 98.6 (Ex. Forbidding retaliation against employees who complained that they’re owned unpaid wages or testified against the employer) and 1102.5 (Ex. Prohibiting employers from preventing employees from disclosing information to government or law enforcement if the employee believes the information discloses a violation of local/state/federal statute/rule/regulation, regardless of whether the information is part of the employee’s job duties.)

New California Family Rights Act Amendments Increase Protection: On July 1, 2015, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) amendments went into effect. Amongst the changes, here are a few that employees should keep in mind: (1) an employer may not contact a health care provider for any reason other than to authenticate a medical certification. The employer must first have a good faith, objective reason to doubt the validity of a certification before requiring a second health care provider’s opinion; (2) taking CFRA leave may not be counted as a break in service or loss of seniority; and (3) employers now must respond to a CFRA request within five business days.

If you believe that you have suffered an employment law matter related to retaliation for notifying your employer of your rights or exercising CFRA rights, prompt action to preserve your rights is critical. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options. See these other Blogs for more information.