Client Alert: Multimillion Dollar DFEH Settlement

On November 30, 2010, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) announced that it would settle a class action lawsuit filed against Verizon for improper family medical leave practices. Verizon has agreed to pay up to $6,011,190.00 to current and former California employees. The lawsuit alleged that Verizon denied or failed to timely approve employees’ requests for leave for their own serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to bond with a new child under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The DFEH also alleged that Verizon fired some employees for violating Verizon’s attendance policy when they missed work for a CFRA-qualifying reason. Verizon agreed to revise its policies, implement training for managers and HR, and to submit regular updates to the DFEH regarding compliance. This settlement is the largest settlement in the history of the DFEH, and is pending court approval.

This case is a good reminder for smaller employers, that even the big companies have improper practices. Businesses should not just follow an ‘industry-wide standard practice’ that may not be correct.

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