In a suit for wrongful termination in violation of right to medical leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), a California Court of Appeal reversed summary judgment in favor of plaintiff’s former employer because plaintiff provided sufficient information to the employer to advise it of his need for leave pursuant to the CFRA, but the employer failed to give notice to plaintiff of his right to leave under the CFRA. See Faust v. California Portland Cement Co.
Generally, the CFRA makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer of 50 or more persons to refuse to grant a request by an employee to take up to 12 workweeks in any 12-month period for family care and medical leave. Employers subject to the CFRA are required to provide notice to their employees of the right to request CFRA leave. An employee must provide at least verbal notice sufficient to make the employer aware that the employee needs CFRA-qualifying leave, and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. The employee need not expressly assert rights under the CFRA or the federal equivalent the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or even mention the CFRA or the FMLA to meet the notice requirement. However, the employee must state the reason the leave is needed; for example, the expected birth of a child or for medical treatment. If an employer is unsure whether an employee may need leave, an employer should inquire further of the employee if it is necessary to have more information about whether CFRA leave is being sought by the employee and obtain the necessary details of the leave to be taken.
In Faust, the employer failed to post notice or give Faust any notice of his rights under the CFRA. In fact, the human resources manager admitted that she never informed Faust of any right he may have to leave under the CFRA or FMLA. The employer also admitted that Faust provided verbal notice sufficient to make the employer aware that he needed leave pursuant to CFRA and the work report of Faust’s health care provider contained the stated reasons for CFRA leave. The employer’s failure to establish that it complied with its obligations under the CFRA precluded it from obtaining summary judgment with respect to Faust’s claims.
Failure of an employer to give or post such notice precludes the employer from taking any adverse action against the employee, including denying CFRA leave, for failing to furnish the employer with advance notice of a need to take CFRA leave.