At the start of 2021, California’s family and medical leave law, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), expanded its coverage to apply to smaller employers—from employers with 50 or more employees to those with just 5 or more employees.  More recently, during the 2021 legislative session, California’s governor signed legislation to add “parent-in-laws” under the coverage of care for a family member.

Due to the continued expansion of CFRA, employers with California employees should refresh themselves with the basics as there are significant differences from the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Covered Employers

Employers with 5 or more employees must provide CFRA leave to eligible employees. Unlike FMLA there is no qualification as to where the employees work, e.g., within a 75-miles radius.

Covered Employees

Employees are eligible for leave for covered reasons under CFRA if they have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months and worked 1,250 hours of service within the last 12 months.

Covered Reasons for Leave

Under CFRA, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the following reasons:

  • to bond with a newborn child or placement of a child in an employee’s home for foster care or adoption;
  • to care for a seriously ill family member;
  • to recover from a worker’s own serious illness (except pregnancy-related disability); or
  • to address qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s deployment.

The definition of a family member under CFRA includes:

  • Child, including adult children
  • Parent
  • Parent-in-law
  • Spouse or registered domestic partner
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren

Reinstatement Rights

After an employee completes a CFRA leave they must be reinstated to the same or comparable position. The position must be the same or close to the employee’s position before leave, meaning a position that is virtually identical to the employee’s original position in terms of pay, benefits, and working conditions, including privileges, prerequisites, and status.

If your business needs assistance with ensuring compliance with the California Family Rights Act and related leave issues, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.

Most employees in San Francisco (and throughout California)  receive one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is now considering an ordinance that would broaden the availability of paid sick leave to domestic workers by establishing a “portable” paid sick leave system.

The “Domestic Workers’ Equal Access to Paid Sick Leave Through a Portable System” ordinance would require any employer of domestic workers, including individual households, to provide their workers with paid time off through a portable benefits system.

Read the full coverage at Jackson Lewis’ California Workplace Law Blog.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana has granted a preliminary injunction enjoining the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate nationwide. Louisiana et al. v. Becerra et al., No. 3:12-CV-03970 (W.D. La. Nov. 30, 2021). This injunction takes immediate effect. Read more here.

On November 19, 2021, the City of Philadelphia announced all City workers must “complete a full schedule of COVID-19 vaccination(s)” by January 14, 2022, or risk losing their jobs. This mandate comes following the City’s announcements requiring all Philadelphia healthcare workers, college students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated by October 15, 2021 and all non-union workers to be fully vaccinated by December 1, 2021.

Read our full coverage here.

In a clear response to the recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) issued by the Biden Administration, Iowa, Tennessee, Utah, and Florida recently have joined the expanding list of states passing laws curtailing the use of COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private employers.

More than 10 states have now passed such laws, even as the OSHA ETS has been stayed temporarily by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and a related, consolidated lawsuit by several state attorneys general and some private employers challenging the ETS is now scheduled to be heard by the Sixth Circuit.

Read our full coverage here.

The EEOC has recently updated its What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws to include a section on Retaliation and Interference.

The update to EEOC’s guidance reviews anti-retaliation protections under the federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The updated guidance provides some reminders for employers in the COVID-19 context:

  1. Current employees (including full-time, part-time, probationary, seasonal, and temporary), job applicants, and former employees are protected by the anti-retaliation provisions of the EEO laws. In addition, anti-retaliation protections apply regardless of an applicant’s or employee’s citizenship or work authorization status.
  2. Retaliation includes an employer’s action in response to an activity protected under the EEO laws that could deter a reasonable person from engaging in protected activity. However, usually, retaliation “would not include a petty slight, minor annoyance, or a trivial punishment.”
  3. An employee who has engaged in protected EEO activity may still be subject to discipline for legitimate reasons if the employer is acting based on non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory reasons that would otherwise result in discipline.
  4. The ADA prohibits not only retaliation for protected EEO activity but also “interference” with an individual’s exercise of ADA rights, such as asking for a reasonable accommodation.

These considerations under EEO laws which are always good to remember, are especially important as employers cope with unique situations with accommodation requests and high tensions in the workplace due to COVID-19.

Jackson Lewis will continue to monitor changes in COVID-19 guidance and regulations impacting the workplace.  If you have questions or need assistance, please reach out to the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work or any member of our COVID-19 team.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has won the much-anticipated Multi-District Litigation lottery and will get to decide the merits of the challenges to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 vaccine Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Under the ETS, employers with at least 100 employees must adopt a vaccination policy that requires employees to be fully vaccinated or submit to at least weekly testing.  Read the latest on this litigation and what it means for employers.

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi has issued an Executive Order (EO) requiring all private sector employers with at least 50 employees to adopt COVID-19 vaccine or testing requirements.

Under EO 2021-075, which is similar in scope to the recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard, such employers must require their employees to provide:

  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination;
  • A negative test result at least every seven days; or
  • Certified proof of recovery within the last three months from COVID-19.

For more information about these requirements, read our full article.