My employer refused to let me take time off from work when I was ill, and then fired me. Can I sue the employer under California law?

It depends. Your employer may have violated both federal and California law by refusing to let you take time off. The federal law that allows employers to take time off work is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California law is the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

Under both laws, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave during a 12-month period. The reasons they can take time off include the birth or adoption or foster care placement of a child, if the employee is unable to return to work because of a serious health condition, or to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition. An employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and must have worked 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period. In addition, the employer must have a minimum of 50 employees to be subject to the laws.

Upon returning to work after FMLA or CFRA leave, the employee must be returned to the same position with the company, or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and terms of employment. The employee must also retain benefits during the medical leave, although the employee can be required to pay for those benefits. The employee does not have to be paid for the time off work.

Unfortunately, many employers do not take their obligations to provide leave seriously. They may find an excuse to terminate an employee who they suspect may need time off before the time is needed. They may also refuse to allow the employee to take the necessary time off.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and your employer has refused to let you take the necessary time off work to care for yourself or a family member, or if your employer has fired you and you believe the firing was in connection with your leave from work, it’s time to talk to an attorney about your legal rights. Call me, Conal Doyle, Los Angeles employment law attorney, at 310-385-0567. My firm can help. Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation on your case.