There are two broad categories of claims under the FMLA (and CFRA: California Family Rights Act, which is substantially identical to the FMLA): (1) interference (or entitlement) claims in which an employee asserts that the employer has denied or otherwise interfered with substantive rights (or entitlements) under the FMLA (e.g., leave denial), and (2) retaliation claims in which it is asserted that the employer has discriminated against an employee for engaging in activity protected under the FMLA (e.g., discriminating against an employee for past use of leave). Strickland v. Water Works & Sewer Bd. (11th Cir. 2001) 239 F3d 1199, 1206–1207; Edgar v. JAC Products, Inc. (6th Cir. 2006) 443 F3d 501, 507–508; Xin Liu v. Amway Corp. (9th Cir. 2003) 347 F3d 1125, 1133, fn. 7.
If your employer denies you the bonus expressly because you engaged in lawful actions under the FMLA/CFRA, then you have a retaliation claim. You can either sue the employer, or file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor (1-866-487-2365) and/or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
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