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Calif. Senate considers family leave discrimination bill

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A California lawmaker wants to protect workers who use the state’s temporary disability insurance family leave program against employer discrimination.

The lawmaker, state Sen. Mike DeSaulnier, D-Costa Mesa, Calif., has introduced a bill, Senate Bill 761, that would give workers affected by family-leave related discrimination help with fighting that discrimination in court.

Today, California employers must offer up to six weeks of leave for eligible employees who need leave to care for a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner with a serious health problem, or to bond with a newborn baby or a new adopted or foster child.

The state provides partial pay for the employees who take temporary paid family leave through the State Disability Insurance Program, according to an analysis prepared by the state Senate staff.

S.B. 761 would affect a worker who has taken temporary leave or might do so.

If an employer fired or discriminated against the worker because of the use or possible use of temporary leave, the worker could sue for actual damages, reinstatement and “appropriate equitable relief.” A worker who won a suit could get an award that would pay the worker’s attorney’s fees.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill by a 5-1 vote, and the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee approved the bill by a 4-1 vote.

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