Beginning on July 1, 2020, California will extend the maximum duration of Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits from six weeks to eight weeks. Individuals may receive benefits from California’s state disability insurance (SDI) program:

  • To care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or domestic partner.
  • To bond with a minor child

In Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, Inc., decided April 4, 2016, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are associated with a person with disabilities.

Plaintiff Luis Castro-Ramirez’s son was in need of a kidney transplant, required daily dialysis, and Ramirez was the only member of his family capable of operating the dialysis machine.  Ramirez drove a delivery truck for Dependable Highway Express, Inc. (DHE).  When he began his employment in 2010, he informed his supervisor that he needed to be assigned schedules that would permit him to be home in the evening to administer his son’s dialysis. 
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Navigating the California laws on discrimination and accommodation of pregnant employees is a significant challenge for retail employers. The Golden State’s protections for pregnant employees are many and they differ from those of federal law and of other states.

Pregnancy Disability Leave Law

Under the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, which applies to employers with at

Amendments to the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) regulations, going into effect on July 1, 2015, are meant to clarify a number of uncertainties, align the CFRA regulations more closely with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) regulations (where the laws are consistent), and ensure employers and employees have a clear understanding of their rights and duties under the CFRA.

Key provisions of the revised regulations are highlighted below.
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An employer did not violate California’s Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) by terminating an employee who engaged in outside employment while out on CFRA medical leave, conduct prohibited by the employer’s policy, the California Supreme Court has ruled. Richey v. AutoNation Inc., No. S207536 (Cal. Jan. 29, 2015).

The Court said the plaintiff had “no greater right to reinstatement or to other benefits and conditions of employment than if [he] had been continuously employed” during the statutory leave period. The Court also found that, although the arbitrator, who heard the matter and rendered an award in the employer’s favor, may have erred in applying to the CFRA the “honest belief” defense used in cases under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the employee suffered no prejudice because the arbitrator concluded the employer terminated him for violating company policy. This finding was sufficient to uphold the arbitration award, the Court said. (The defense allows employers to avoid liability under the FMLA when the allegedly discriminatory or retaliatory action is based on an honest, but mistaken, belief about an employee’s misconduct.) Accordingly, the Court ruled the Court of Appeal erred in vacating the arbitrator’s award.
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Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued new Enforcement Guidance (“Guidance”) on pregnancy discrimination in the workplace and related issues.  In its first update in over thirty (30) years, the Commission clarified how Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) interact to protect pregnant employees.  If you are an employer in California, you may be thinking, “Great. Another change in the law and now I am stuck with trying to figure out how these changes apply to my business. Now what do I need to do to make sure the policies and procedures in our handbook are up to date?”

The new guidelines prohibit employers from forcing pregnant workers to take leave and acknowledge that “employers may have to provide light duty for pregnant workers.” After childbirth, lactation is now covered as a pregnancy-related medical condition.

Also, it’s not just women who will benefit.  The guidelines say that when it comes to parental leave, “similarly situated” men and women must be treated on the same terms.

Here are some tips to consider when reviewing and updating your handbooks:


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On November 13, 2012, the California Court of Appeal expressly rejected the viability of the “honest belief” defense in Richey v. Autonation, Inc.  In Richey, an employer terminated an employee who was on California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) leave because, during that leave, the employee was allegedly working at a restaurant he owned. 

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Director Phyllis W. Cheng, speaking at the Jackson Lewis LLP-sponsored Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Labor and Employment Committee Meeting on Feb. 22, 2011, told the gathering of business lawyers that the agency would continue to pursue high-impact cases of “systemic discrimination” under the Fair Employment and