The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows covered employees in California and around the country to take job-protected, unpaid leave while they are dealing with a serious medical or family issue. The right for employees to take leave is also protected under the California Family Rights Act.

An employee who works for a company with 50 or more employees is entitled to take 12 weeks of FMLA leave each year. To qualify for FMLA leave, an employee must have a serious medical condition or be caring for a family member with a serious medical condition. Pregnancy, childbirth and adoption are other issues that allow an employee to qualify for FMLA leave.

The FMLA is a federal law that is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor. An employer that does not allow an employee to take FMLA leave could be sued. An employer could also face a lawsuit if it allowed an employee to take FMLA leave but did not reinstate the employee to an equivalent job position after the leave ended. Employees who are taking FMLA leave are entitled to keep the same employment-based insurance coverage that they had prior to taking leave.

Besides denying leave and failing to reinstate an employee who has taken leave, there are many other ways that an employer may violate the FMLA. An employer who tries to convince an employee not to take leave or pressures an employee to return from leave early may be violating employment law. Employees who believe that they have been treated unfairly at work due to their decision to take FMLA leave may want to have legal assistance in seeking appropriate remedies.