In California and across the country, thousands of workers are losing their jobs. Some temporarily, some permanently, and many unlawfully. If you believe you have been illegally terminated from your job as a result of the coronavirus, legal recourse may be available to you.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed by President Trump on March 19, 2020.  The Act provides for two paid leaves that employers across the United States must provide to employees in response to the coronavirus epidemic.  The FFCRA become effective on April 1, 2020 and applies to employers with 1 to 499 employees.

The FFCRA provides qualifying employees with two sources of paid leave: Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, which we will discuss in this article. Unfortunately, some California employers have tried to skirt the law and avoid paying employees compensation they are rightfully owed by terminating them before the FFCRA went into effect.  This could be your employer’s attempt to interfere with, restrain, or deny your right to use FMLA leave.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows certain employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.  The FFRCA has updated the FMLA to expand the definition of who is an employee under the FMLA and what qualifies for paid FMLA leave.

Under the FFRCA, an employee who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days and who works for a company with less than 500 employees may be able to qualify for emergency FMLA.  If you, the employee, are unable to work (or telework) due to your need to care for a minor child whose school or place of care has been closed, you may take up to 12 weeks of leave. Now the big question: Is this leave paid or unpaid?

Paid Leave Under the Emergency FMLA

Under Emergency FMLA, the first 10 days of your leave may be unpaid, but you have the right to use other paid leaves during this time. Leave under this “emergency” category is partially paid, unlike the regular FMLA. The Act states that you are to be paid ⅔ of your regular salary for weeks 3 through 12 and the number of hours you would normally be scheduled to work for up to 12 weeks. Paid leave shall not exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.

If you believe your employer has interfered with your FMLA right for leave of absence, contact the experienced employment lawyers at the Law Offices of Eric A. Boyajian today.