There’s some good news for employees in California who need to take time off for school-related issues. Recently, California law expanded protections for working parents with school-age children who need to take time off. If employers fail to give their employees those benefits to which they are entitled under the law, they can be held legally responsible for damages.

California law provides that employers with 25 or more workers at the same location cannot discriminate against parents with children in a licensed daycare facility or who are in grades kindergarten through twelfth grade who need to take time off to participate in school activities. Parents are allowed to have up to 40 hours a year off for that purpose, but are limited to only using eight hours a month.

Parents are required to provide their employers with documentation about the school events. If an employer fires them, demotes them, or punishes them in any other way because the employee took time off, remedies are available to those parents who have been discriminated against. Employees are allowed under the law to use their accrued paid sick time, if provided by the employer, to cover those hours they used to attend the school events. They can also choose to use personal leave time, or even to take unpaid time off.

If more than one parent of a child is employed by an employer at the same worksite, the employer is only required to honor the request of the first parent to request the time off. Any additional employees who need time off can only miss work with the permission of the employer. Recently, a new law was passed in California which provides working parents with even more protections under the law.

If an employee is demoted, fired, suspended, or punished for missing work because of his or her child’s school-related activities, and the employee gave reasonable notice to the employer that he or she would need time off, the employee is entitled to be rehired and to be reimbursed for lost wages and benefits. If an employer refuses to rehire the employee or to pay damages, the employer is liable to the employee in an amount equal to three times the value of the lost wages and benefits.

It’s unfortunate that in some cases, it takes court action to make employers do the right thing. Employees have a host of protections under the law, but many employers choose to ignore the legal rights of their employees. If an employee’s rights are violated, the employee can sue for damages, including lost wages and benefits, as well as emotional damages. In some cases, a lawsuit can be filed in federal court against the employer. In other situations, the lawsuit should be brought in state court. There are a number of factors that must be considered in deciding where a lawsuit should be pursued.

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe that San Francisco Bay Area employers must treat their employees fairly and provide them with the benefits to which they are entitled under the law, including the right to take time off work for their children’s school-related functions. If your employer has violated your legal rights, call the Oakland employment law attorneys at Liberty Law at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. We work with clients throughout the Oakland-San Francisco Bay area, including Hayward, Tracy, Fairfield, San Jose, Sacramento, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas. We will provide you with a free consultation on your case. Call today to learn more or to schedule your free consultation.

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