Originally Published on August 19, 2018; Revised/Updated on May 9, 2021
Let’s assume that an employee is on medical leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) because of a serious health condition. The employee eventually exhausts his/her leave entitlement under both the FMLA and the CFRA – but is still unable to return to work. How should the employer respond?
Unfortunately, many employers believe that an employee has no right to any additional leave once the employee has exhausted his/her leave entitlement under FMLA/CFRA. But even after the employee exhausts his/her leave entitlement under FMLA/CFRA, he/she may still be entitled to additional leave as a reasonable accommodation under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (the “FEHA”) if the employee’s serious health condition qualifies as a “disability” under the FEHA. (This is a commonly occurring scenario, given that the FEHA’s definition of “disability” is relatively broad. Generally speaking, “disability” is defined as any physical or mental disability that “limits” a “major life activity,” such as working, walking, or sleeping.)
Thus, because of the FEHA, once an employee exhausts his/her leave entitlement under FMLA/CFRA, an employer’s obligation to provide additional leave to that employee does not necessarily end. Instead, the employer must engage in the interactive process to find a reasonable accommodation for the employee. At the end of the interactive process, the employer must provide the employee with additional leave as a reasonable accommodation unless the employer can demonstrate (a) that providing additional leave will impose an undue hardship on the employer; or (b) that another effective accommodation would allow the employee to perform the essential functions of his/her position.
If you have questions about FMLA/CFRA leave, call 916-612-0326 or email ([email protected]) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Roseville, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, and Concord.
The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.