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Can I lose my job for taking care of my loved one?

If you are caring for a loved one who is seriously ill or disabled, you know that it requires many hours and tireless dedication. This obligation will likely conflict with your work schedule and you may feel that your job is in danger due to the amount of time that you have missed.

Thankfully, laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protect your right to care for a loved one without fear of retaliation. Despite the presence of federal laws to prevent it, California employers may ignore these regulations and unlawfully dismiss an employee for missing significant time from work, despite that individual being well within the boundaries of employee rights.

Your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act

According to the FMLA, eligible employees in certain situations have the right to unpaid leave without fear of losing their jobs. The maximum amount of protected time available under this law is 12 weeks within a 12-month period and is available under the following circumstances:

  • The birth of a child or any care needed by the child in the first 12 months of life
  • The placement of a new foster or adopted child into the worker's family
  • A serious health condition that makes it impossible for the worker to do his or her job
  • Caring for a parent, spouse, child or close family member with a serious illness
  • Situations that would require one to miss work in order to address issues involving an active duty military spouse, child or parent

It is illegal for an employer to fire or retaliate in any way against an employee who uses his is or her rightful leave per the FMLA.

Protect your rights against employer retaliation

If you were fired, threatened with termination or faced retaliation because you took leave to care for a loved one, you have the right to take legal action. Unlawful dismissal is grounds for a civil claim, and it is important to protect your rights by securing the help of an experienced attorney as early as possible. An experienced lawyer can determine if you have grounds to proceed with legal recourse and guide you through a complex and potentially contentious wrongful termination.

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