Proposed California bill looking to address caregiver rights

Frank S. Clowney III

San Diego residents who provide care for family members can find themselves in conflict with employers who balk at giving employees needed time off. The Family Medical Leave Act is a federally enforced law protecting workers from discrimination based on their status as caregivers. Understanding workplace laws regarding the allowance of time off for care giving is essential for both employers and employees.

A single father believes he was withheld promotion due to his requiring time off to take care of his three children. Like many parents, the man has sole custody of his children. He claims his supervisors at the Bakersfield Fire Department were not cooperative in allowing him time to tend to his children’s needs. He filed suit against the department and eventually lost the case on appeal.

This case exemplifies the limitations of the FMLA. The law is only applicable to an employee who has a year or more on the job, who works at a company that has at least 50 employees and who is caring for someone with a serious health issue.

Currently, the California Legislature is looking at a bill that would extend protections to those providing supervision or medical care to family members. As for now, workers must be aware of the specific conditions wherein the FMLA is applicable.

The responsibility of meeting familial obligations can become overwhelming. Fulfilling all your commitments is sometimes impossible without support and cooperation. At such times, you should be able to request your employer grant you time off or provide you schedule accommodations without fear of reprisal.

The FMLA might provide legal guarantees to which you are entitled should you need to take time away from work to tend to personal duties. If you suspect unfair treatment from your employers based on your caregiver status, you should contact someone well-versed in the specifics of the FMLA and other relevant California laws.

Source:, “NYC, Calif. bills show fight to protect caregivers,” Feb. 3, 2014