Workers in Los Angeles have a right to take personal, sick, family, or other leaves that the law entitles them to take. If an employer fires them or retaliates against them for exercising those rights, it can amount to wrongful termination. Victims of wrongful termination can file a civil lawsuit against their employer and demand compensation that covers their losses and can even pay for the costs of filing and pursuing the lawsuit.

In this article, our Los Angeles employment attorneys answer the following questions:

  • What Leave Rights Do Los Angeles Workers Have?
  • Who Has Those Leave Rights?
  • Do I Have to Be Terminated for My Rights to Be Violated?
  • What Kind of Compensation Am I Entitled To Receive in a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?

Many workers in Los Angeles are entitled to take a wide variety of leaves from work, each of which covers a different type of situation. Some of the most common types of work leave include:

  • Sick leave
  • Pregnancy leave
  • New parent leave
  • Family and medical leave
  • Leave to serve on a jury
  • Disability leave
  • Bereavement leave
  • Leave to vote
  • School activities
  • Crime victim leave

Some of these leave entitlements give workers the right to miss weeks or even months of work – like family medical leave, which provides workers with up to 12 weeks off to care for someone with a serious health condition. Others, like voting leave, only provide a couple of hours away from work.

In some cases, leave entitlements are with pay or a form of wage replacement, sometimes in the form of unemployment disability benefits. In others, there is no pay, but the worker’s position at the company is still protected.

Unfortunately, not all workers have the same rights to workplace leave. To make things even more confusing, each particular type of leave in Los Angeles has its own eligibility standards, and those may be different from state or federal laws if the city or county has its own local rule.

Those eligibility standards often factor in:

  • The number of employees who work at the company
  • How many hours the worker has spent on the job
  • How many months the worker has been with the company
  • More experienced employees who work with larger companies tend to have more leave rights in Los Angeles.

Additionally, it can matter if you are an exempt employee or an independent contractor. These types of workers tend to have far fewer leave rights than salaried and traditional employees.

Because your leave eligibility and the extent of your leave rights depend on your work status, your employer, and even the type of leave you want to take, it is very important to talk to an employment lawyer and to be familiar with your workplace policies before taking leave from work.

Employers can violate Los Angeles’ leave laws in more than one way. They can:

  • Refuse to let a worker exercise their leave rights
  • Refuse to let a worker come back to the company after they have taken leave
  • Offer a returning worker a different role that is a step down from the one they had, before they left

Each of these actions can lead to a lawsuit. However, workers have to be fired or constructively discharged to have grounds to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. When this is not the case, they can still file a lawsuit for retaliation.

Employers can be liable for wrongful termination if they fire, discharge, or terminate a worker for taking leave that they are entitled to take. Employers have to let returning employees come back to the same position that they had before, or to a position that is substantially equivalent. Equivalent positions are those with virtually identical:

  • Pay
  • Benefits
  • Working conditions

They also have to offer the same or at least substantially similar:

  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Work schedules
  • Location
  • Job description
  • Workplace authority

The payment and benefits offered to a worker returning from leave cannot be lower than when the worker left, except in certain limited circumstances. This includes non-traditional forms of payment, like bonuses or commission. Returning workers are also entitled to pay increases and other benefits that they would have received, had they not been on leave. This includes:

  • Pension benefits
  • Health, dental, life, or disability insurance
  • Regularly scheduled cost of living increases
  • Service time or experience, if it is used to calculate or schedule other benefits

For example, if a construction foreman leaves for family medical leave for a month, that month counts towards the five years he needs to work in order to get a scheduled raise.

When the worker wants to return to work but has a disability, the employer has to offer a reasonable accommodation or face ramifications for disability discrimination.

If you exercised your legal rights and took a workplace leave that you were eligible for and were entitled to take, but then your employer refused to let you return, you can file a wrongful termination lawsuit and demand compensatory damages. This compensation aims to financially cover all of your losses, including:

  • Lost wages and benefits between the time of your discharge and the court verdict or settlement
  • Lost future wages and benefits, covering the court verdict until you would reasonably have been expected to leave the job

These wages and benefits, however, are subject to your duty to mitigate your damages. Courts will subtract the income and the value of the benefits that you should have received, had you taken reasonable measures to find a new and substantially similar job after being wrongfully discharged from the one you had, before.

Depending on the leave law that your employer violated, you may also be entitled to receive:

  • Attorneys’ fees
  • Court costs associated with filing the lawsuit
  • Punitive damages
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress from the wrongful termination

Contact A Compassionate, Experienced Employer Law Attorney In Los Angeles Today

California leaves laws are very specific as to what is allowed and what is not. Nonetheless, employers sometimes try to work their way around these laws. If you believe your right to take leave has been violated, contact us at Sirmabekian Law Firm, PC today. Our employment lawyers are devoted to hard-working people like you.

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