I’m an employment lawyer. I sue companies on behalf of terminated employees. My office gets thousands of calls a year from employees. I talk to other lawyers everyday who do what I do. And I’ve realized that human resources does a terrible job helping their employees. Why? Here is why:
This video dives deep into HR and why, even if they want to help you, they largely can’t. I spend a lot of time detailing the five reasons HR sucks. I hope you like it!
This is a very common question. At-will employment does not mean that the company can fire you for any reason they want. That is incorrect. In this video, employment attorney Branigan Robertson explains the at-will doctrine and how it actually works.
Branigan has just release a video on the main leave of absence law in California. This video was made to add more value to our extraordinary California Family Rights Act (CFRA) page. If you need information about your leave of absence rights, we recommend that you start your research there.
Pregnant women often find that maternity leave is complicated and daunting. It does not have to be! There are a few basics that we cover in this post: what are your rights, what if your boss is upset that you will take a leave, and what to do if you get fired. Taking maternity leave in California is better than most states. The laws protect you here more than anywhere else in the country.
Basic Maternity Leave Rights in CA
The first question that many expecting employees face is whether they are entitled to maternity leave at all. The answer is usually, yes! California’s main pregnancy leave of absence laws (CFRA, FMLA, PDL, FEHA) apply to most employers. You have a right to take maternity leave. Employers are not required to pay employees during maternity leave. Even though employees do not have a right to pay from their employers during maternity leave, most California employees have a right to California’s state disability insurance during their leave. Fortunately, pregnancy related illnesses are considered disabilities by California law; employees often have a right to disability insurance payments during their leave. Visit California’s EDD website for more information.
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Leave to Bond With Your Child – 12 Weeks
California provides leave rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”).To be eligible for leave under CFRA, certain requirements must be met. The employee must work for an employer that has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of the employee’s worksite. The employee must have worked for their employer more than 12 months. The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer of work in the preceding year.
In California, expecting employees are not only entitled to maternity leave for the childbirth itself, but they also have a right to time off for disabilities related to the pregnancy as well. The definition of “disabled” is fairly broad. Most employers that have five or more employees, which includes most businesses in California, are governed by California’s main pregnancy discrimination law, the Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA).
She has a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth
This can include, but is not limited too, the following: childbirth, loss of child, post-partum depression, bed-rest, prenatal care, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, postnatal care, etc.
How long can you pregnancy disability leave last? FEHA gives female employees a right to maternity leave for up to four months.However, this maternity leave is only available to the employee as long as she is disabled from the childbirth, pregnancy, or some related condition.
The right to as much as 12 weeks of bonding time under CFRA is distinct from the right to pregnancy disability leave under FEHA. Accordingly, the bonding time under CFRA may be taken after the employee takes up to four months of pregnancy disability leave—totaling up to as much as seven months of total maternity leave depending on the length of the employee’s pregnancy disability.
Does maternity leave need to be taken all at once?
No, California’s FEHA provides for as much as four months of maternity leave for disabilities related to pregnancy and childbirth. But often disabilities are not continuous. Expecting mothers can take some time off during one trimester, or during an emergency, and then take the rest after delivery. This is called intermittent leave and is considered a reasonable accommodation.
Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees if they’re requested and if a health care provider has advised it. Your employer will likely ask you for a doctors note. If intermittent leave is expected, employers may explore a temporary transfer to a similar position with equal pay and benefits.
However, just because you are pregnant, does not mean they cannot fire you. If you are a bad employee, they can fire you. If they are laying off your department, you can go too. If you get fired while you are pregnant suspect the reason you were fired was your pregnancy, call a wrongful termination lawyer to investigate your case.
Do California employees have a right to their job after taking maternity leave?
Yes. Employees in California that exercise their right to maternity leave may not be discriminated against for taking a leave of absence. They have a right to return to their same or a similar position after their maternity leave has ended. The employer is not allowed to cut your pay when you return.
2019 Pregnacy Discrimination Update
First of all – for the most current news about CA employment law (the good stuff, not the boring garbage that most lawyers put out) sign up for our newsletter. We’ll send you great information for free only once or twice a month.
I originally posted this article on February 27, 2015. I’ve updated it several times. Its now 2019 and some women are wondering if CA’s maternity leave laws have changed at all. First of all, the foundation of CA’s anti-discrimination laws have not changed. If you believe that you were fired because of your pregnancy, disability related to pregnancy, or maternity leave you should call the best employment lawyer in California for a free consultation. Some administrative rules and laws may have changed in 2019, but the majority of the calls to our office are about termination or expected termination. Therefore, it is unlikely that the maternity leave laws in California that may have changed in 2019 would affect the analysis of our office during your consultation.
California workers with blossoming families got an extra bit of good news this month. On October 12, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law expanding the state’s leave of absence rules so that more workers can spend time and bond with their newborn babies. The new law, which will take effect January 2020, expands the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to cover smaller businesses with fewer employees.
While CFRA have long provided job-protected time off for workers in order to spend time with newborns, until now, it’s only applied to companies with at least 50 employees. The new law expands leave protection to California workers employed by companies with 20 to 49 workers. This is a huge deal for women seeking to take maternity leave but who work for smaller employers.
According to an article published on October 12 by the Orange County Register, the expansion will cover 16 percent of the state’s labor force that had heretofore been neglected by existing law.
“This is a great victory for working parents and children in California,” said the bill’s author, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson. “With more parents struggling to balance work and family responsibilities…no one should have to choose between caring for their newborn and keeping their job.”
What the Expansion Offers
The new expansion will specifically allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave in order to bond with newborn children, newly adopted children, or a recently placed foster child. This means an employer cannot fire, fine, suspend or otherwise discriminate against an employee for exercising their right to parental leave – that would be pregnancy discrimination.
While the law doesn’t require the employer to provide the employee’s salary during the leave, the employer is prohibited from refusing to maintain or pay health coverage supplied under a group plan during the leave.
In order for an employee to qualify under the new act, just like under CFRA, he or she must meet the following requirements:
Have been employed by the company for more than 12 months
Have at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12 months
What Happens if an Employee is Denied Leave?
While the expansion has yet to go into effect, an employee who is denied their rightful leave under the law will have a number of different options. A good attorney will look at the facts of the case and seek the best outcome for the client. This could involve seeking lost wages, back pay, pain and suffering damages and possibly punitive damages.
An employee who wins their case might be reinstated at their job if wrongfully terminated, or entitled to monetary compensation. If you have questions about changes to the family leave law, or some other employment issue, contact this office for more information.
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Branigan Robertson is proud to announce that his law firm, along with the incredible Lawrance Bohm of the Bohm Law Group, just obtained a verdict in Orange County Superior Court in front of Hon. Ronald Bauer. The case was a pregnancy discrimination case in which the Plaintiff, Kimberly Perry, was terminated after delivering a stillborn child. Mr. Robertson has handled many pregnancy discrimination cases.
Ms. Perry worked at eGumball, Inc. In three years of employment as the HR Manager, Ms. Perry was never reprimanded in writing. In February of 2013 she told her boss, the President, that she was pregnant. Ms. Perry went on leave on August 30, 2013, approximately a week before her baby was due. A few days later she delivered a stillborn child. She and her husband were devastated. Her son’s name was Trenton.
On October 4, Ms. Perry informed the President via email that she intended to return to work on October 31st. According to witnesses, this made the President uneasy as he thought she would be depressed and gloomy. He did not think Ms. Perry would return from leave after what happened. The President forwarded Ms. Perry’s email to his assistant, Chelsea Patterson. Ms. Patterson was the President’s most trusted employee, and she replied to the President stating that despite the situation Kimmy had done a “good job” in the HR Department, but they should move forward with their “most recent decision.” Ms. Patterson confirmed at depo that this email meant “terminating Kimmy Perry.” She changed her testimony at trial and said it didn’t mean termination, it meant they were going to “make some kind of change.”
But since eGumball did not write up Ms. Perry in three years of employment, they needed a paper trail if they were going to fire her since her termination was going to follow the death of her child. eGumball hired an auditor to look into the HR Department on October 14, 2013. The auditor came in and interviewed two employees who were not qualified to give the answers. eGumball used the audit’s results as its main justification for terminating Ms. Perry. But during the case it was discovered that eGumball did not get the results of this audit until weeks after Ms. Perry was already fired.
The jury awarded $138,000 in damages for Ms. Perry. The jury then heard testimony as to whether or not punitive damages should be awarded. The jury felt they were needed awarded $400,000 for a total verdict of $538,000.
Please note that nothing presented on this website is legal advice. Every situation and every client's legal matter is different and this website is merely meant to provide information to the public. Nor does this website create an attorney-client relationship - such a relationship has not been formed until a signed fee agreement has been made. If you want legal advice or want to know if you have suffered a legal wrong in the workplace, contact our office.