My employer is creating a fuss about letting me take my paternity leave. I need help regarding that.

I am at a very senior software engineer level at a startup of about 500+ employees in CA. My daughter was born less than 6 months ago, and I have taken about 2 weeks of my allowed 12 weeks of paternity leave.

About a few weeks ago they vaguely hinted (just verbally) that I was not performing up to level. I have tried to put in more hours at work, but they still feel I am under-performing. Note that they have never given me any written feedback regarding my performance

Recently, I asked my manager that I want to take my paternity leave. And he said that would be a problem, since I was underperforming. He says that would prolong the issue of my under-performance to 2020, and he is not comfortable pushing it so long.

I submitted a written request to HR (with him cc-ed) to allow me to take my paternity leave asap. I have a meeting tomorrow to resolve this.

I want to be prepared for this meeting. What are my best options ?

- Do they have the right to prevent me from taking paternity leave if they claim I am under-performing.

- Also, can they threaten termination if I donít back down on paternity leave request. They can claim that the termination is due to lack of performance. In that case what are my legal options ?

- How long can they make me wait before I go on paternity leave. I want to take is asap.

I would like to end this amicably. In all candidness, I will probably find a new job soon, but do need to keep this job until I find the new one (for visa issues).

Thanks,
Stressed_Out