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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I have a California Bereavement Question. My employer's

Customer Question

I have a California Bereavement Question. My employer's third party leave administrator approved for me to have 3 days of bereavement (Wed Oct 7 through Friday Oct 9). The third party leave agency notified my manager days before my leave. I also added my special leave to the team calendar.
On Friday morning, Oct 9, the day of the funneral, I checked my work email. My team lead scheduled me to start a training on Monday, Oct 12, the day I was to return to work. However, this return to work day would have required me to complete at least one or more full days of work to prepare for the class on Monday. The employees for my company work Monday through Friday.
I would have had to work with someone on Friday to learn the skills necessary to provide training to a different group of people. On Friday, I would have also been required to contact the security team for system access to different tools needed to be used for the training. These items could not have been accomplished over the weekend days.
Our company policy has been if business needs require us to work, we must forfeit any future scheduled time off. I have always been required to forfeit my time off, unlike my peers. But this case was different, as this was bereavement.
We have four people on our team who could have fit in to the same role being asked of me.
From Sept through Oct 7, a teammate was scheduled to train the class.
However, on Oct 6 the teammate notifed our lead she had scheduled time off for a family vacation. Her time off conflicted with several days of the training. In this situation, another trainer steps in as a substitute when the main trainer needs time off.
On Oct 7, the lead change the trainer to a different person. However, the second person was currently taking personal time off from Wed Oct 7 through Tuesday Oct 13. When the lead was notified of the time off, then on Friday, she scheduled me to begin the training on a Monday.
No one was asked to change their personal time off days to accomodate the training, only I was told I would be completing the training. I was very stressed Friday morning, as I believed I would have to leave the funneral to complete some business related tasks (get Security access to required tools to train). My travel distance to return to the office was too long (4 hours) for me to be able to attend any dept training.
At the end of each class, my classes receive a quality score. The trainees evaluate my knowledge, if i properly used and demonstrated the tools, if I prepared job aids, etc. If the scores are low, then my employer could fire me.
I am uncertain why others personal time off was recognized, but my bereavement time was not. Would this be considered interference with my bereavement time off?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My sincere condolences for your loss and apologies for the difficult time your employer is giving you with respect to your bereavement time.

Unfortunately, California law does not presently entitle private sector employees to protected bereavement leave. This means that even if your employer offers bereavement time, there is no law preventing them from "interfering" with it, or even terminating you due to some occurrence which stemmed from it. It would be absolutely horrible and unfair for an employer to do something like that--and indeed the vast majority of employers would not--but the law does not prevent employers from being horrible or unfair, the law only prohibits employers from doing things which are expressly illegal. So, while I would certainly agree that this is an "interference" with your bereavement, it is not an interference which gives rise to any legal claims, and you would not typically have any legal protection under these circumstances. Your only real power here would be the power of persuasion--that is, explaining to your employer logically that any low quality score would have been the result of your approved bereavement leave because someone close to you recently died. Most employers, indeed virtually ALL employers, would be understanding in those circumstances. But the law will not help you.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. I read the labor code to mean the CA employer could not ask a person to forfeit their bereavement leave.
The California Dept Labor Code states: 230.5. (a) It is unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to grant a request by any employee to take up to three days of bereavement leave upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or domestic partner.
(b) It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to interfere with or restrain the exercise or the attempted exercise of the right of an employee to take leave pursuant to subdivision (a).
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, you are quoting from a bill that has not yet been passed into law and may never be. In fact, this is why I qualified my answer about bereavement leave in terms of what the law presently" requires. You are quoting from AB 325. You can see the legislative status of the bill here.

So, for the time being, and insofar as affects your situation, there is no bereavement protection for private sector employees. I hope this clarifies things.

Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.

Very best wishes.