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Can My Employer Deny a Family or Medical Leave Request?


Covered employers in California may not deny any Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) request when the employee is eligible to take leave and properly requests it.

FMLA is a federal law that provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. Employers may not require employees who are approved for FMLA leave to work during their leave; likewise, employers may not retaliate against employees for requesting leave or taking it once approved.

Who Is Eligible for FMLA Leave?

There are certain requirements that qualify an employee to take FMLA leave.

Those who are eligible for FMLA leave meet the following criteria:

  • They request leave on the basis of pregnancy; adoption or foster care bonding; personal or family illness; or military deployment
  • They have worked for their employer for at least 12 months
  • They worked 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months of employment
  • The employer has more than 50 or more employees within 75 miles

If an employee doesn’t meet these requirements, their employer doesn’t have to approve their FMLA leave request.

How Do I Request FMLA Leave?

A request for FMLA leave should be conducted in writing and submitted at least 30 days before one intends to begin their leave. Your employer may have their own rules for how to request FMLA leave, so you should defer to your company’s handbook or human resources department for guidance on requesting leave.

It’s important to bear in mind that requesting leave will necessarily involve disclosing personal information, such as a pregnancy or illness, when it’s relevant to your reason for requesting leave.

What Happens If My Employer Denies My FMLA Request?

You may be able to internally appeal a denial of your FMLA request, but you may also wish to consult with an employment lawyer. When you meet the eligibility criteria for requesting FMLA leave and have followed the appropriate process for requesting leave, your employer’s denial could be a violation of your rights.

In this case, you may need to file a lawsuit against your employer to achieve FMLA leave and any damages you may be owed for an improper denial of leave.

Can My Employer Fire Me for Requesting Leave?

No. Under no circumstances can your employer retaliate against you by any means – including termination – for requesting FMLA leave. Likewise, your employer may not retaliate against you for taking approved FMLA leave.

Can My Employer Fire Me While I’m on Leave?

Generally, no. FMLA leave is job-protected, which means you can expect to return to your previous role in the company (or one that is substantially similar) with the same salary and benefits. In California, you also accrue seniority while on leave.

Employers can terminate employees on FMLA leave when their roles in the company are terminated. In other words, if your employer terminates your position while you are on leave, it should mean that no one else is brought in to replace you in that role.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

At K2 Employment Law, we understand how difficult it can be to deal with a denial of your FMLA rights. Our experienced team of attorneys can help you navigate the appeals process and fight for a better outcome.

We also understand that many people experience retaliation during events that concern FMLA leave, but rest assured that our attorneys can help you assert your rights with legal action. We are committed to fighting for the rights of employees in all industries and ensuring that justice is served. With our help, you can rest assured that your case is being handled with the utmost care and attention.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your FMLA rights.