Can You Be Terminated From a Job While on Medical Leave?

Posted March 10, 2020 by in Career
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If you got hurt at work or need to take a family medical leave to care for a family member, you might wonder about what will happen to your job. 

In many cases, the U.S. has laws that help protect you from getting terminated simply for taking a medical leave. However, whether a termination is legal also depends on the reason for termination.

So, when can and can’t you get terminated from a job on medical leave? Read on to learn all you need to know.

Understand Laws Might Protect You

Laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can protect your job when you take a medical leave. 

The FMLA gives you 12 weeks to care for your own health or a close relative’s death without having your job at risk. This requires that you’ve met seniority and minimum hour requirements and that your employer meets the requirements to offer this leave. So, if you qualify, you can consult a Brooklyn workers’ compensation doctor and get a document proving your health issue.

As long as your workplace has at least 15 workers, then the ADA can protect you when you need a medical leave due to a disability. It also will require that your employer make some reasonable arrangements for you to do your job when you return.

States can also have medical leave laws that bar employers from firing you if you need time off for a health reason.

When You Can’t Legally Get Terminated From a Job

If you take an authorized leave under the FMLA, your employer can’t fire you simply for not coming to work during that time. You do, however, need to take steps to follow your supervisor’s orders involving any paperwork and the return date.

And if you’re out of work due to a disability, the ADA extends this to mean your employer can’t fire you even if you may no longer have the ability to do normal job functions. They will need to make reasonable accommodations for you when you return.

When You Can Get Terminated From a Job

On the other hand, your employer can legally fire you if you don’t show up after your FMLA leave ends. They can also do so if you never told your supervisor you needed to take the leave and you had no other sick time accrued for that period.

When you’re on a disability leave, your employer can legally fire you if you won’t be able to do the job even with reasonable accommodations. The same applies if you refuse to show up to work and claim you can’t do your job even when the employer makes those accommodations.

Also, know that your job performance and behavior from before your medical leave from work can impact whether you can be fired. If you had major performance problems, had a history of not showing up to work, or broke major workplace rules, your employer can usually legally fire you.

Know That You Can Take Action

If you’ve gotten terminated from a job and qualified for a medical leave, you can get the help of an employment lawyer. Just be prepared to show evidence of your health condition to back up your claim.

You’ll also need to show that you’ve gone through your employer’s processes for requesting leave and followed all their instructions.