HR Alert

CA Court of Appeal: Whether Notice is Sufficient Under the California Family Rights Act is a Question of Fact

Law Applicable to Certain Employers

A recent opinion from the California Court of Appeal provides that the question of whether notice is sufficient under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is a question of fact for a fact-finder (e.g., a judge or jury) to determine.

The CFRA, generally applicable to employers with 50 or more employees, provides eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for family care and medical leave. Under the CFRA regulations:

  • An employer may require that employees provide at least 30 days' advance notice before CFRA leave is to begin if the need for the leave is foreseeable based on certain circumstances (e.g., an expected birth or an employee/family member's planned medical treatment for a serious health condition).
  • If 30 days' notice is not practicable, such as because of a lack of knowledge of approximately when leave will be required to begin, a change in circumstances, or a medical emergency, notice must be given as soon as practicable.

An employer may also require that an employee's request for leave be supported by certification in certain instances.

Appellate Court Opinion
The court stated that the CFRA (and its implementing regulations) envision a scheme in which employees are provided reasonable time within which to request leave for a qualifying purpose (and to provide the supporting certification to demonstrate that the requested leave was, in fact, for a qualifying purpose), particularly when the need for leave is not foreseeable or when circumstances have changed subsequent to an initial request for leave. Hence, the question of whether notice is sufficient under the CFRA is a question of fact for a fact-finder (e.g., a judge or jury) to determine.

Note: As this is an appellate case, further legal action may be forthcoming. Employers with questions on the opinion's impact on workplace policies and practices are strongly encouraged to contact knowledgeable employment law counsel.

Click here to read the text of the opinion.

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