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

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, eligible employees are entitled to take time off for due to a “qualifying exigency” arising from the deployment of the employee’s spouse, parent, or child for active military duty to a foreign country. Examples of “qualifying exigencies” include attendance at military events, making childcare arrangements arising from a military

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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An employer did not violate the federal Family and Medical Leave Act by requiring an employee to undergo a fitness-for-duty evaluation after it had restored her to her position following a medical leave of absence for psychological issues, the California Court of Appeal has ruled. White v. County of Los Angeles, No. B243471 (Cal.

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.