When a person needs to care for a sick child, disabled family member, or a new baby, both state and federal law allow that person to take time off work without worrying about whether they will lose their jobs. Through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other laws, many employees are guaranteed a certain amount of unpaid leave which can be used to recover from an illness or accident, to care for a sick family member, or to bond with a new child.
While FMLA has been the law for over 20 years, many employers still have difficulty recognizing when a caregiver is allowed to use this type of leave and what types of accommodations must be made. As a result, parents and people who care for relatives have filed discrimination lawsuits in record numbers over the past several years.
One group of people filing an extraordinary number of lawsuits is breastfeeding mothers. According to a report in Time Magazine, lawsuits by breastfeeding mothers have increased by 800% in the past decade. Bolstered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and a recent United States Supreme Court case, women are taking action against employers who fail to provide additional time or clean locations (that are not bathrooms) for breastfeeding mothers to express milk.
In addition to discrimination lawsuits filed by pregnant women or recent mothers, there has also been an explosion of caregiver lawsuits. As the general population ages, more and more adults need to take time off to care for aging parents. Many employers are still unaware that intermittent family leave is allowed under state and federal law, and that FMLA allows workers to take time off to care for an ailing family member. According to the same Time article, these types of cases have increased by 650% in the past ten years.
Finally, there has also been a noteworthy increase in the number of men filing caregiver discrimination lawsuits against their employers. Traditionally, women were the ones who cared for sick children or relatives, and were usually the ones discriminated against for requesting time off work. However, as more men take on this role, the number of men filing lawsuits over discrimination has increased.
Qualifying employees have a legal right to take leave in case of personal or family illness, disability, pregnancy and adoption. Employers who refuse to grant family leave, or who take negative employment actions against a person who exercises their right to FMLA leave can be held responsible for damages including lost wages and damages for emotional distress. If your employer is refusing to grant FMLA leave to you or your loved one, contact us to speak with an experienced discrimination law attorney in Los Angeles today.
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