Knisbacher Law Office – San Francisco Bay Area Employment Law – Legal Issues at Work

Laws Regarding Disability, Illness and Medical Leaves

There are various laws providing protections for employees who are disabled, who are sick, who are pregnant, or who need to care for a sick family member, or bond with a newborn.  Some of those laws are listed below.  The interplay between these laws is complicated, and confusing.  You should talk to an attorney in this office to determine whether one or more of these laws apply to your situation.

Family and Medical Leave
Employers, who have more than 50 employees working within 75 miles of your principal job site, must comply with California and federal family/medical leave law.  California’s law is called the California Family Rights Act, and is very similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.  Employees, who have worked 1250 hours in the past year, are covered by the laws.

Employers are required to give covered employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year for a serious health condition of their own, or their close relatives.  The CFRA also allows leave for bonding with a new baby or a newly-adopted child.

The employer is generally required to guarantee your return to the same job you held at the time you began the leave.

Pregnancy Disability Leave
If 5 or more people work at your workplace, and you are unable to work because of your pregnancy or a medical condition related to your pregnancy, your employer must provide up to four months of unpaid leave.

The employer is generally required to guarantee your return to the same job you held at the time you began the leave.

Paid Family Leave Insurance
Beginning in 2004, California employers who make contributions to the State Disability Insurance program (SDI) were required to withhold family leave insurance from their employees’ paychecks.  Employees take time off work to care for a family member’s serious health condition, or who take time off work to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child, will receive up to 6 weeks of payments, based on a formula corresponding to your pay.  Unlike the FMLA and CFRA, employers do not have to guarantee that when you return from such paid leave, your job will be held open for you. 

Disability Discrimination
Employers who have more than 50 employees are required to help injured, hurt or handicapped employees return to work.  If you are hurt, or unable to perform part of your job because of a handicap or disability, you should tell your employer.  The employer is then required to work with you in good faith, to get you back to work.  The employer must give you what the law calls “reasonable accommodation” to allow you to work.  What type of accommodation is reasonable depends on your job.  For example, if you do a lot of typing and have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, the employer might be required to allow you to use a dictation program, instead of typing.  If you are a nurse that works in a ward with heavy patients, the employer might be required to transfer you to another nursing station that doesn’t require you to lift patients.   Sometimes, an accommodation can be as simple as allowing you to work part-time, or to take off several weeks for sick time. 

If you are still working, and your employer is not helping you find new work, or is not trying to modify your job, you should contact us immediately.  We can negotiate directly with your employer, or help you negotiate effectively.

Employers are not allowed to retaliate against you for requesting reasonable accommodation.  If you have been taken off work or fired after requesting accommodation, after you were injured, after you filed a workers compensation claim, after you took time off work for being sick, or for pregnancy you may be able to sue the employer for retaliation.