Know Your Rights: FMLA, ADA, and the Interactive Process

Sandra Cruz 01-10-18

Sandra Cruz-Cardenas, Nursing Assistant at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas.

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.

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3 Responses to “Know Your Rights: FMLA, ADA, and the Interactive Process”


    Is it true the FMLA for military purposes applies only for overseas deployment?
    Few months ago, I applies for FMLA to care for my 2 years old grandson while both parents (daughter & son-in-law) were away for their annual training. Both my daughter & son-in-law are serving the US Army actively.
    My request was denied accordingly since it was not overseas deployment. My daughter was in South Dakota for a month while my son-in-law was in Indiana for 3 months.
    Please I need clarification regarding this matter. Thank you very much.

    Egypciana Marapao-Escobedo

  2. gwyn harshaw says:

    Great work

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