When is a House Not a Home?


EmpBlog-6.25.2013-HouseNotAHomeA woman takes a day off work to drive her significant other to a doctor’s appointment after he complains of having heart issues. As he had suffered a heart attack the year before, she felt as though it was necessary to assist him for the day.  The woman and her boyfriend work for the same company.

Following her day off, the employer’s human resources department asks the woman a series of personal questions regarding her relationship with her boyfriend, which she feels were discriminatory because they live together but are not married.  Following this questioning, she is terminated for the unapproved absence.

Does the woman have a claim?  Well, this is California, so the answer almost always seems to be yes.  In this case, however, the couple was not registered as domestic partners.  Absent a marriage or registration as domestic partners, such an absence would lack the statutory protection afforded to employees who take time off to care for family members.

When is a house not a home?  When the State of California says it isn’t.  In order for California residents to be in compliance with domestic partnership laws, the couple needs to file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership or a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the state.  Once this is done, they will be legally recognized as having the same rights as a married couple under various laws pertaining to leaves of absence and the use of paid time off.