Omid Nosrati

Understanding who is eligible for FMLA/CFRA leave

Thanks to both the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, and the California Family Rights Act -- otherwise known as the FMLA and CFRA, respectively -- employees needing to take time off to deal with certain family- or health-related issues can proceed with confidence if they work for an employer that is subject to these laws.

With certain exceptions, FMLA/CFRA provides covered employees with the ability to take unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period. In today's post, the first in a series, we'll start taking a closer look at these landmark laws in an attempt to help employees better understand their scope of protection.

Any such discussion must be prefaced by an examination of what requirements an employee must satisfy in order to be considered eligible for leave under the FMLA/CFRA.

Indeed, the law states that it's considered an "unlawful employment practice" for a request for FMLA/CFRA leave to be denied by the employer where:

  • The employee has worked for them for more than 12 months.
  • The employee has logged a minimum of 1,250 hours for them during the preceding 12 months.

It's important for employees who otherwise satisfy the following criteria to understand that it's not considered an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse a request for leave under the FMLA/CFRA if it has fewer than 50 workers within 75 miles of the worksite at which the requesting employee currently works.

It's also important to note that when determining FMLA eligibility, all absences from work owing to or necessitated by service in the armed forces will be counted toward the above requirements.

What sets FMLA apart from some other employment protection laws is that employees do not need to prove that their employer denied their FMLA right due to some sort of bad motive.  As long as the employer "interfered" with the employer's right to take FMLA, (regardless of the motive) that would be an unlawful employment practice.

We'll continue this discussion in future posts, examining everything from the conditions for which leave may be sought to the difference between the FMLA and the CFRA.

If you have reason to believe that an employer has unjustly denied your request for leave for family- or health-related care, or wrongfully terminated you for exercising these rights, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your options.     

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Omid Nosrati
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