California leave laws are complex. California leave laws are inter-related. California leaves laws are always changing. We receive calls all the time from our clients and potential clients asking what is the correct way to handle an employee who has requested leave or is out on leave.
This is one of the most complicated areas of California Labor Law. Employers are obligated to provide an ever-changing array of leaves to employees who qualify. Some leaves come with job protection and some do not. On the employee side, it is important to understand your evolving rights as well. Many employees do not understand what leaves are legally available to them.
Disability claims appear to be on the rise. In disability cases, Employers also have an obligation to make a reasonable accommodation and engage in a good faith interactive process provided that they are on notice of the disability. However, the employer is not obligated to suffer a “hardship” as a result of the proposed accommodation — and leave itself is a form of accommodation. But how much leave is enough before you can terminate an employee? The law is not clear.
A common scenario we see is where our corporate clients find themselves in an apparent never ending “limbo” where an employee has exhausted all legally required leave, but the employee has not returned to work, and is requesting additional leave. If they fire the employee, they could face a “retaliation” lawsuit even where they provided legally required leave. One mediator (a retired Judge) summed it up humorously as: “Welcome to California, home of beautiful weather and [##%!] legislation.”
The best an employer can do here is to either (1) allow the employee to remain on leave, and consult with an attorney before terminating or (2) obtain a written note from the employee’s health care provider that he or she is not able to return to work and will not be able to do so in the future.
About Adishian Law Group, P.C. Adishian Law Group (http://www.AdishianLaw.com) is a California law firm with a statewide practice in the areas of Corporate law, Employment law, Real Estate law and Mediation Services. As of November 2015, the firm has represented corporate and individual clients located across 22 California counties, 13 States outside of California and 9 foreign countries in over 480 legal matters. Adishianlaw.com is one of the oldest continually operating law firm websites on the Internet. The firm serves its clientele via three offices located in the major business hubs of El Segundo, Palo Alto and San Francisco.
For more information about this article, contact Chris Adishian: