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On Behalf of Lyon Legal, P.C. Dec. 20, 2022

What happens if I’m injured and can’t work or I have to take time off work to care for a family member?

If you cannot work because you’re injured/sick or you need to care for a qualifying family member, eligible employees (those who worked more than 1,250 hours in the year prior for an employer with 5 or more employees) are eligible for up to 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) and/or California Family Rights Act protected Leave (CFRA).  This means that your employer must hold your position during your absence.  However, in many cases 12 weeks is simply not enough. Fortunately, in California, you may be entitled to additional “unprotected” leave when your protected FMLA/CFRA leave expires.

Pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California employers with five or more employees have a legal duty to make “reasonable” accommodations when it learns you have a known disability. A disability is a condition that limits your major life activity (i.e. walking, eating, working, and performing physical tasks).

Once an employer learns of your disability, California law requires the employer to engage in an interactive process (i.e. a productive conversation) with you to identify an appropriate reasonable accommodation. A reasonable accommodation can range from a schedule change, modifying lifting requirements, providing time off work, providing specialized equipment to assist an employee, providing a leave of absence, and/or providing increased breaks.  The larger the employer, the harder it will be for it to argue your restrictions are unreasonable. 

Therefore, despite the expiration of protected leave under the FMLA and/or CFRA, California employers have a duty to provide reasonable accommodations to employees including, time off work and leaves of absences.    

*Note: The reasonable accommodation duty does not apply to those California employers with less than five employees.

**Note: Employers’ legal duty applies unless doing so would impose an undue hardship. An undue hardship means the employer would experience significant difficulty or expense by making a reasonable accommodation.

If you were retaliated against and/or terminated because you requested a work place accommodation, call Lyon Legal, P.C. for a free consultation.


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