Court Allows FMLA Retaliation Suit To Proceed

Anaheim, CA: When it comes to defending Family and Medical Leave Act rights, regardless of whether the employee is in California or Ohio, there are certain rules an employer cannot break. Federal FMLA laws apply across the US, while state laws, such as California FMLA, apply only to the individual states. Despite the existence of state FMLA laws, though, there are regulations that employers in every state must follow. Among them is the rule concerning retaliating against employees.

December 16, 2016

FMLA Lawsuits on the Rise

Washington, DC: A new report from Bloomberg BNA (10/24/16) suggests the number of Family and Medical Leave Act lawsuits is on the rise. In California, FMLA lawsuits have been filed against employers, alleging violations of employee rights to family and medical leave.

According to a report by Bloomberg (10/24/16) the number of FMLA lawsuits filed has increased in the past four years. Based on data from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the number of private lawsuits regarding FMLA complaints filed in federal courts in 2012 was 404. By 2015, that number had jumped to 1,181. During the same period, the number of FMLA complaints made to the Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division dropped from 1,723 in 2012 to 1,419 in 2015. Going further back, in 2010 there were 2,094 complaints filed with the DOL.

Among the complaints made about FMLA violations to the Department of Labor in 2015, the highest number of complaints involved job termination, followed by discrimination and refusal to grant FMLA leave. Although not all of the complaints were found to have involved actual violations, 672 cases were found to have violations. Those cases involved 818 employees and back wages of more than $1,900,000.

One possible reason for the increase in lawsuits and decrease in DOL complaints is that under the FMLA, employees do not need to file a complaint with the DOL before they file a lawsuit.

In California, an FMLA lawsuit was reportedly filed by a man who alleges he was fired for taking time off to care for his newborn children. According to the Northern California Record (10/11/16), Stanley T. Shen worked for Recreational Equipment Inc (REI) from March 2005 until October 2015. In both 2013 and 2015, he requested four weeks of unpaid FMLA leave so he could take care of his newborn children. In both cases, he was allegedly only given two weeks of FMLA leave.

The lawsuit alleges Shen was fired in retaliation for taking his FMLA leave.

Employees who have worked for a covered employer (either a public agency or a private employer who has 50 or more employees) for at least 12 months, for 1,250 or more hours during the year prior to the FMLA leave, and are at or within 75 miles of a location where at least 50 employees work are eligible for FMLA coverage.

The lawsuit is Shen v. Recreational Equipment, Inc., et al. 2:16-cv-07308, in US District Court for the Central District of California.

November 4, 2016

Disappointing Outcome for California FMLA Plaintiff

San Bernardino, CA: In somewhat of a curious outcome to a California FMLA and harassment lawsuit, a jury has found in favor of the City of Redlands in a lawsuit brought by a former employee who alleged discrimination and harassment by the City and a City employee.

September 30, 2016

Family Responsibilities Leading to More Employee Lawsuits

Los Angeles, CA: A new study conducted by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law suggests that discrimination against workers who take time to care for family members has resulted in more employee lawsuits being filed against employers. Those lawsuits allege violations of a number of laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other state and federal laws. Perhaps surprisingly, men make up 38 percent of all FMLA cases reported, indicating they, too, are victims of discrimination when they take time off to care for family members.

July 3, 2016

Doctor Files California FMLA Lawsuit

Los Angeles, CA: A wide-ranging California FMLA lawsuit that alleges violations of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) together with alleged violations against other federal and state statutes was filed in February by a former UCLA resident doctor. The lawsuit, which names among the defendants the University of California Board of Regents, claims that the university denied the plaintiff the right to maternity leave, and later terminated her residency at the university, allegedly because UCLA was not willing to accommodate an unrelated leg injury.

May 4, 2016

Discrepancy between California Family Leave Act and FMLA

Sacramento, CA: A new study published by Forbes suggests that although employees in California have access to paid family leave, few employees are using it. A major reason for that discrepancy could be that although California’s Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI) allows for paid family leave, it does not offer job protection for workers who take the leave. That protection is offered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), but those acts only apply to certain employees who are on unpaid leave.

March 22, 2016

New California FMLA Laws Take Effect

Sacramento, CA: Parents in California now have more flexibility when it comes to their families, thanks to a new California family leave bill. The bill, which took effect as of January 1, increases protections for parents who have to take time off to care for children or enroll children in school.

January 7, 2016

California Family Rights Act Prevents Employer Interference

San Diego, CA: Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), employees of covered employers are eligible for certain job protections, including the ability to take time from work for the birth of a child or the serious health condition of the employee’s child, parent or spouse. When the employee returns to work following the leave, the employee must be given the same or an equivalent job, meaning the employee cannot be fired for taking California CFRA leave - or, for that matter, for taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, which is the federal statute protecting employees.

November 19, 2015

Understanding California Family Medical Leave

San Francisco, CA: When it comes to understanding employment rights, areas such as family leave can be complicated. That’s because family medical leave is covered federally by the Family and Medical Leave Act but is covered in California by the California Family Rights Act. Ultimately, though, it means eligible employees are able to take up to 12 weeks off, paid or unpaid, for certain reasons.

October 28, 2015

California FMLA Lawsuit Stymied by Tribal Immunity

Cabazon, CA A lawsuit brought before a federal judge in California citing the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was lost for the plaintiff when the judge hearing the matter dismissed the case. The FMLA lawsuit was brought by a casino worker who had taken approved time off work for alleged medical reasons, only to have been terminated from her job. The plaintiff had filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.

August 13, 2015
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