As 2020 winds down, employers large and small will have to grapple with some significant changes to the state’s California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The September 17th signing of SB 1383 is a massive shift for California employers, since the CFRA has historically provided job protected leave for employers with 50 or more employees.
No termination should ever come as a surprise. This is a common mantra by labor, employment and human resource specialists alike, because it summarizes the topic of employment terminations so well.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and many state laws, afford protections for employees with disabilities to promote equal employment opportunities, both in the application process and during employment. These protections include prohibiting discrimination and retaliation on the basis of disability, and require that employers provide reasonable accommodations to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential job functions, providing equal benefits and privileges of employment. Conversations around accommodations typically focus on physical, apparent disabilities, but over time, the need to address mental health has expanded this focus.
Imagine meeting with your employees for their routine annual evaluations and having to tell your once star-performer that their performance is slipping and they are no longer meeting the requirements of the job. You may have a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) in mind, when the employee discloses that their work product has declined because they are having difficulty doing their job as a result of a medical condition, and you had no idea. Now what?
Since the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its enforcement guidance surrounding workplace retaliation last summer, employers have been on notice to exercise caution when taking adverse action against an employee following protected activity. Absent clearly documented evidence of a legitimate business reason for adverse action, like termination, such action taken by an employer following an employee’s participation in protected activity may be deemed as retaliatory, leaving the burden on the employers to defend their actions. Protected activity includes such things as: requesting an accommodation; taking a leave of absence; or participating in an investigation.