In California, most employees are at will employees. Therefore, unless an employer gives their employees a day off, the workers can be fired for not showing up to work. There are, however, a few employment laws that protect workers under certain circumstances. If an employee qualifies under one of these laws, then that employee cannot be fired for, or retaliated against, for taking time off of work.
One California State Senator is now trying to pass a new state law that would give employees more protections when they need to take off work. Senator Ted W. Lieu recently introduced a bill that would protect victims of crimes from facing any workplace discrimination because they have taken time off to attend the criminal proceedings of their alleged attacker.
Under the new law, victims of serious or violent crimes would not only include the people hurt in the crime but also their children, spouses, siblings, parents and guardians. Crimes that would be included in this employment law are murder, sex offenses and domestic violence, among others.
Currently, California employee laws protect employees from losing their jobs if they have been subpoenaed into court, are serving on a jury or if they are a domestic violence victim seeking a protective order. However, this new law would take this even farther. Victims of crimes would have the right to take off work, without fear of losing their jobs, in order to be present at criminal hearings of their perpetrators -- even if they are not required to be there. Under the Constitution, victims have a right to be at these hearings, this law would ensure they don't receive punishment at work for exercising this right.
If this new law is past, employees would receive new protections. However, protections exist under the current employment laws. Employees should make sure they know their legal rights if they face punishment at work because of time they have needed to take off.
Source: Santa Monica Mirror, "New Measure Aims To Protect Crime Victims From Work Discrimination," May 13, 2013