HR Management & Compliance

E-Alerts: Family and Medical Leave: No Leave Time for Mother Whose Son Was Abused by Caregiver

Stacey Detels, a claims representative for Farmers Insurance Exchange, took several weeks off of work after learning her toddler son’s caregiver may have been physically abusing him. Detels took her son to two health care providers to evaluate him, but the providers found no need for any treatment. Detels claimed that when she returned to work, she was reassigned to inferior job duties, and she eventually resigned. She sued Farmers, arguing she was discriminated and retaliated against for taking protected time off under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). A jury awarded her $144,000, and the trial court tacked on $271,000 in attorneys’ fees.

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But a California appeals court has now thrown out her case. According to the court, Detels didn’t qualify for CFRA leave because her son didn’t suffer from a serious health condition, as he didn’t require continuing treatment by a health care provider, as required by CFRA. Said the court: “Unfortunately for Detels, whose desire to care for her child in a time of crisis is laudable, the CFRA simply does not protect all family-related leave requests, even those that most of us would agree are appropriate.”