Sandra Cruz-Cardenas recently learned about the importance of various leave laws and how they protect our jobs. Working as a Nursing Assistant at our local public hospital, Sandra needed time away from work under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which her doctor approved. FMLA affords workers up to 12 weeks of protected leave to recover from a serious medical condition, or care for a family member recovering from a serious medical condition.
Sandra’s employer, however, put up some obstacles in approving her FMLA leave, and requested that she engage in an “interactive process” to determine if any accommodations exist that would make it possible for Sandra to continue working.
The “interactive process” is a legal requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees with a disability. From this process, Sandra learned that she has the right to union representation at any interactive process meeting initiated under the ADA. Our sister union, SEIU Local 1021, recently won this right for all public sector employees in California after challenging an employer’s denial of union representation at an ADA interactive process meeting (see SEIU Local 1021 v. Sonoma County Superior Court, (2015) PERB Decision No. 2409-C).
After contacting our Contract Enforcement Department, Sandra was able to resolve her leave issues with her employer.
“We have these rights to protect us, so it’s important that we exercise them. We also have strong union representation, so it’s great to know that my job is protected.” – Sandra Cruz-Cardenas, Nursing Assistant, Natividad Medical Center
For more information on your rights under the FMLA, ADA, and related disability laws, contact your Steward or the Contract Enforcement Department.