Wrongful Termination While on Medical Leave: What Are My Rights?
By Gregory Thyberg on August 29, 2017
The greater Sacramento area continues to grow, with more and more people coming to this part of California for affordable housing, employment, and a host of other opportunities. When someone in the area is fired from their job for discriminatory or unjust reasons, they know they can turn to the team at Thyberg Law for help. We have years of experience dealing with wrongful termination cases, and we always fight diligently for our clients.
Even though employees are supposed to be protected from termination while on unpaid medical leave, many people are let go by their employers. We'd like to consider the nature of protected medical leave and what legal options may be out there for those who have been wrongfully terminated.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Legal Protections
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a federal law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their job during a 12-month period for family or medical reasons. This could include a personal medical emergency or a medical issue that impacts the employee's family.
While this medical leave is unpaid, employers must continue to provide medical insurance. The law also states that employers must allow the employee to return to their job once the leave is over. Upon the employee's return, there will be no change in that employee's position, pay, status, or other terms and conditions of their employment.
Firing an Employee on Medical Leave Is Wrong
Since the FMLA is a federal law, its protections extend to eligible employees throughout the country. Firing an employee because they are on medical leave is a violation of the FMLA.
Sometimes people are terminated while they are on medical leave, though employers may attempt to cite job performance as the reason. If this is the case and there is a legitimate issue with job performance, it would be most tactful for the employer to discuss these matters directly with the employee prior to the medical leave.
If there is an indication that taking a protect medical leave was the reason for your termination, you have a strong reason to consider pursuing legal action against your former employer.
Potential Discrimination Based on Medical Disability
Some employers may fire the employee because of a potential disability that arises as a result of a medical condition. In these cases, termination while an employee is on medical leave is discriminatory. In other words, the reason for an employee's termination while on medical leave is the employee's acquired disability rather than their job performance.
There may be situations in which the effects of an employee's medical condition prevent them from performing their normal job duties upon their return. In such cases, it's important for employer's to discuss these matters with their employee rather than simply terminating the employee outright.
How an Employment Lawyer Can Help
Wrongful termination cases can be complicated, requiring a deep knowledge of federal and state laws with regard to employee protections. Most people do not have the legal background necessary to pursue these cases on their own. What's more, after the loss of a job, one's mind is often occupied with seeking new employment and facing a multitude of day-to-day challenges.
By working with an experienced wrongful termination lawyer, you will put your case in capable hands. This peace of mind is invaluable. As your attorney fights for your rights and offers legal counsel, you can focus your energies on the needs of your family or household.
Learn More About Your Legal Options
If you have been fired from your job while on medical leave and would like more information about your legal options, we encourage you to contact an experienced workplace law attorney today. The legal team at Thyberg Law will fight diligently for you an your rights every step of the way.