Employment Attorney Group aims to educate all workers and employees who may feel that they are victims of some kind of unfair treatment in the workplace.
For years, businesses and company owners have done everything in their power to ensure that workers are kept at bay and are unable to fight back in the event that they are treated poorly.
Managers have long gotten away with improper actions and have not faced repercussions for their wrongs. Often, this is primarily due to a lack of knowledge by the workers and a relative inability to take action. Our firm has provided information below to help you understand if you were a victim of interference at work. Interference is the act of refusing rights based on Pregnancy Leave, Family Leave, and more.
What is Considered Interference Under California Law and the CFRA?
TITLE 2, DIVISION 3, PART 2.8, CHAPTER 6, ARTICLE 1, 12945.2 of California’s Government Code states outlines unlawful practices in violation of Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL), Bonding Leave (CFRA or NPLA), and the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Specifically:
(t) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under this section.
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), it shall be an unlawful employment practice for any employer, as defined in paragraph (2) of subdivision (c), to refuse to grant a request by any employee with more than 12 months of service with the employer, and who has at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, to take up to a total of 12 workweeks in any 12-month period for family care and medical leave. Family care and medical leave requested pursuant to this subdivision shall not be deemed to have been granted unless the employer provides the employee, upon granting the leave request, a guarantee of employment in the same or a comparable position upon the termination of the leave. The commission shall adopt a regulation specifying the elements of a reasonable request.
Some of the rights that are outlined include:
- Refusing to grant a request for family care and medical leave
- Reject or end coverage for an employee’s group health plan
- Reduce the mandated 12 workweeks allotted by the law
Interference, therefore, is essentially when an employer purposely acts in a way that would prevent an employee from taking some kind of leave to attend to his or her family's needs. Bosses and managers may do all they can to ensure that a worker stays at the business no matter what the situation, even going so far as to deny sick leave in some instances. These practices are highly illegal and should be reported to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
What are the Acts pertaining to protected leave?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA) both allow employees to take leave for pregnancy, baby bonding, care for a sick family member, and to care for the individual’s own sickness. Businesses are mandated to abide by these Acts if they employ 50 or more workers. Individuals have worked for the employer for 12 months and worked 1,250 hours in those 12 months in order to be covered.
Different Acts have different amounts of leave; for example, Pregnancy Disability Leave allows up to 4 weeks of departure from the job, while the California New Parent Law allows 12 weeks of leave for bonding.
How can I tell if I have been interfered with at work?
In order to determine if your rights have been interfered with at work, you must be aware of what they are in the first place. You should know that you have a certain amount of leave available to you for maternity leave and that you can adhere to the FMLA and other acts. You should be very attentive to the nuances of these Acts, though. For example, you can easily go over the allotted time allowed, which would allow your employer to rightfully terminate you, especially if you did not give notice or provide any proof that you needed additional eave. You do have the right to provide documentation explaining these circumstances or scenarios, but if your employer receives none, he would not be in the wrong if he takes action and fires you.
As long as you know your rights in the workplace, you will have a much easier time identifying when they are interfered with. As stated above, if you are refused medical leave or pregnancy or maternity leave, or if you are suddenly removed from a group health plan with no warning or due to your family emergency, your rights were likely violated.
One of the essential ways to determine if you were interfered with is to consider how others have been treated who were also in your shoes. If another woman took pregnancy leave but was fired, or if she suddenly faced a huge reduction of hours against her will, she may have been targeted and had her rights interfered with. If you suffered the same treatment, you could easily claim interference, as well.
What to do if I Face Interference at Work?
If your rights are interfered with while at work, you should make sure to still put your family first as necessary, especially if there is an emergency. You should then make sure to collect evidence.
Evidence for these types of issues can be troublesome to acquire. You may not be able to collect physical proof that there was mistreatment or interference. In some cases, the only proof of it is in the words that your boss spoke to you. If so, you should ask other coworkers to give their testimonies and statements if they heard your boss make any claims about you or your leave. However, many coworkers and other employees are jobs are hesitant to provide their points of view; they fear retaliation from the boss and do not want to put their own careers in jeopardy.
If your boss did not speak to you and instead wrote you a letter or email, you should print a copy of it for your records. This may be the only physical proof you have of his actions.
If you believe your rights were interfered with, you should go to Human Resources and file a complaint. You should also keep a journal and notes about the event. Human Resources will likely say that they will investigate the incident, but in most scenarios, this will not happen; the Human Resources Department is often only at companies to protect the business from employees and will not take any action to put its senior members or authority figures in jeopardy.
Finally, it will be in your best interest to consult with a skilled employment attorney who can tell you if your rights were violated or if you were a victim of some kind of discrimination. Your rights should not be interfered with while at work, and a lawyer can adequately point out if you have sufficient grounds for a lawsuit, if your employer acted illegally or within his own rights, or if you have no case at all.
Who is liable for Interference under CFRA?
Under the California Family Rights Act, the employer is responsible and liable for any losses, damages, or mistreatment of the employee if there is interference with the employee’s rights. The company should not mistreat the employee in an illegal way, and if a boss or supervisor refuses to leave without the instruction of the company, the company can be held accountable for that authority’s actions. Needless to say, it is often to the benefit of companies to abide by the laws and to strictly police their supervisors and managers, as a violation can lead to hefty fines and extensive lawsuits.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit if my rights were interfered with?
The statute of limitations to file a claim for interference is 180 days from the date of the actions if you choose to file through a Federal organization or 300 days from the date of the incident if you choose to file through a State organization. Therefore, in California, as you will likely file through the DFEH, you will have less than 1 year to gather your evidence and sue. Once you have received a right to sue letter, you can move forward with a claim.
Bear in mind, though, that if you plan to sue a government entity, this statute of limitations is greatly reduced to 45 days.
Missing the statute of limitations is one of the primary reasons that interference claims do not get filed often. Individuals simply forget about the time limit or do not know how long they have in the first place.
What can I receive from an interference lawsuit?
If you file an interference lawsuit against your employer, you may be able to receive ample coverage for your losses. You could have the income you lost out on reimbursed and you could be reinstated into your old position if you were fired. Our benefits could also be reimbursed if they were taken away or if your employer reduced the amount being paid. Because of the sudden loss of benefits, you could also owe bills and expenses, perhaps for medical treatment; the employer could be forced to pay these costs as well.
Most importantly, you may be able to receive pain and suffering damages and punitive damages for your case. These are emotional traumas and additional punishing amounts, respectively. Punitive damages, though, are quite difficult to win, and only a skilled attorney will be able to do so. They are only handed out in special cases where there is deliberate attempt to harm or mistreat you.