Coyle Browne Law


What Can I Do If My Employer Denied My Leave?

Balancing your professional responsibilities with personal well-being is integral to maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life. There are times when you may need to take leave from work, whether it’s due to sickness or personal reasons. In these cases, it’s important to understand what you’re entitled to and when your employer is permitted to deny your request for time off.

Work Leave in California

While paid time off (PTO) is a common practice in many companies, it’s important to note that PTO is not mandated under California law. 

Employers often accommodate requests for unpaid time off depending on their internal policies and the specific circumstances under consideration. Nevertheless, they are not universally required to grant such.

Family Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one significant exception to the general rule about leave. Under FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to 12 weeks of protected, though unpaid, time off annually for specific reasons that include personal injury or illness recovery, caring for a loved one with health issues, or welcoming a new addition to the family.

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to:

  • Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
    • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
    • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
  • Twenty-six work weeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

Circumstances outside of these specified categories may not afford you such statutory protections and it’s mostly left at your employer’s discretion whether they grant it.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) not only provides approved employees with job-protected leave, but also ensures sustained health insurance coverage during this period. Even though the benefits are unpaid, employers must continue to maintain your healthcare benefits as if you were still working.

The FMLA also guarantees that upon returning from leave you’ll be reinstated to the same role or an equivalent one. Moreover, it prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who exercise their FMLA rights. In the even you were denied family leave, contact our family medical leave lawyers in San Diego to learn more.

What If Your Employer Refuses To Grant Your Leave?

Should your employer unjustly deny you leave that you’re lawfully entitled to under the FMLA, it can be challenging and unsettling. In these circumstances, you can consider filing an administrative complaint with the Department of Labor as a recourse.

Before navigating this process alone though, consulting with an attorney – particularly one experienced in employment law – may prove beneficial. They can evaluate your situation to pinpoint the exact nature and extent of an employer’s transgression.

They may also be able to help you obtain appropriate remedies for injustices suffered. A lawyer can help you obtain some or all of the following, depending on the circumstances surrounding your claim:

Back Pay: This refers to monetary compensation you would have earned from regularly scheduled work hours upon your return had it not been for the wrongful denial of leave.

Reinstatement at Your Job: Your attorney can fight for reinstatement if you were unjustly terminated due to seeking FMLA leave.

Intangible Losses: If applicable, damages may be recovered that account for emotional distress or inconvenience caused by an employer’s violation.

Attorney Fees: In some cases, you may also be compensated for the legal fees involved with pursuing your claim.

Remember, laws like FMLA exist to safeguard your rights as an employee and it’s crucial that you seek legal help if they are not being honored. If you need assistance, contact our San Diego employment law attorneys today to schedule a free consultation.

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