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Can An Employee Be Terminated While On Medical Leave?

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

A Quick Legal Guide On Your FMLA Rights As A California Employee

Qualifying workers in California can take days off for various reasons, as opposed to national protected leaves. Only a few instances include pregnancy-related difficulties, the desire to donate an organ or bone marrow, the necessity to care for a sick family member, military leave, or any other medical or personal issues. Your employer violates the CFRA if they refuse to grant you paid or unpaid medical or sick leave. You'll need a skilled Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles to protect your employees' rights when this happens.

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What Involves California's Leave Of Absence Laws?

Under California's leave regulations, employees are protected against unfair discrimination, intimidation, or reprisal if they seek or take a protected leave of absence. Employees in California have the right to take time off work, and their bosses cannot penalize them for doing so.

In addition, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) ensures an employee's right to paid or unpaid leave in California.

The California Family Rights Act allows qualified workers to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for each year they work for the same employer. If your employer retaliated against you after you requested or took a medical leave of absence, you might have enough grounds to file a complaint.

If you've unfortunately experienced any unlawful actions in violation of your rights in California, get a referral to one of our pre-screened Employment Lawyers in Los Angeles.

What Are The Protected Leaves In California?

Employers must take into account their employees' interests. The laws in California were written with the employee's best interests in mind. As a result, California boasts some of the most liberal leave regulations in the country, ensuring that workers in the state are among the best protected in the country when it comes to taking time off.

The ordinary California boss would almost probably fall under any of these restrictions. Some of the state and federally mandated leaves available to qualified California employees are as follows:

  • The California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

  • Family And Medical Leave (FMLA)

  • The New Parent Leave Act

  • Military personnel are entitled to a service leave

  • Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Victims have the right to take a leave from work for recovery

  • Witness Protection and Jury Duty

  • Voting

  • Leave to donate organs and bone marrow

For more specific details about your case, contact an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles to better understand your legal options.

What Is Sick Leave or FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)?

FMLA leave is the most commonly filed of the protected leaves of absence in California. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employees to take unpaid leave to care for themselves or a family member, friend, or domestic partner who is ill.

Employees in California are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of sick leave for these purposes. However, when a company employs at least 50 people, it is required to follow the FMLA. If you believe your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act have been violated, seek legal advice from an experienced Los Angeles Employment Lawyer.

When Your FMLA Rights Are Violated

Workplace discrimination and retaliation are against the law. The most important feature is the assumption that California's leave regulations are "protected."

This ensures that after a California employer's maternity leave or other leave of absence ends, the employee must be rehired to their previous employment or a comparable position. After all, there's no use in taking a "leave of absence" if you won't be able to return to work after it's over.

Employers in California are forbidden from discriminating against workers who request or take a leave of absence, retaliating against them, or otherwise taking adverse employment action against them. All of the following can be considered unlawful discrimination or retribution against a worker who takes a safe leave of absence:

  1. Termination without cause

  2. Unjustified demotions

  3. Sudden pay cuts

  4. Refusal to promote

  5. Threats and harassment

  6. Intimidation

  7. Employer-sanctioned coercion and bullying

In short, if your boss makes employment decisions to punish you for requesting or taking a leave, then it counts as Employment Retaliation. You would have enough grounds to find a lawyer and file complaints with the appropriate agencies when this happens.

Retaliation-Motivated Harassments

The Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employers in California from harassing employees who are pregnant, have given birth, or are seeking pregnancy-related leave (known as "FEHA").

This law applies to employers, bosses, and coworkers alike. Harassment is illegal if it is so widespread or severe that it creates a hostile or abusive work environment or results in an adverse employment judgment.

Harmful jokes, slurs, disparaging statements about an employee, including inappropriate touching, are all instances of harassment. Unlike traditional discrimination claims, the law does not need workers to be wounded or incapacitated due to offensive behavior. Instead, the harassment is sufficient to constitute an allegation of unlawful harassment.

When You Get Fired

There are many ways for employers to retaliate against their employees, and one way is to fire them. When an employee gets fired for unlawful reasons, such as in retaliation for requesting or going on a leave, then it can be considered an act of Wrongful Termination in California.

Whether by termination, dismissal, or downsizing, Losing your job is one of life's most traumatic events. However, California law provides some protection, albeit at a hefty financial and emotional cost. If the following requirements are met, wrongful termination is prohibited:

  1. It is done out with the intent to discriminate.

  2. It violates an employment contract or a government policy.

  3. It is done in retaliation because the employee exercised a legal right.

California allows at-will employment in the state, which means that either the employee or the employer can end the job at any time and for any reason. On the other hand, at-will employment is significantly more nuanced than a simple excuse for unjust termination. Employees employed at will have no fixed term of work and can be fired at any time.

While the term "at-will employment" is frequently used by employer counsel, employers may not fire employees for unlawful reasons, as this is considered wrongful termination. Despite this, some of California's most prominent corporations participate in illegal terminations regularly. If you believe you were fired unfairly, you should speak with a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer who can help and assist you through the process of filing a claim.

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Although there are many employees in the public or government sector, those with implicit, verbal, or written contracts, and union members may claim to be exempt from the general at-will status. However, the majority of workers in California are at-will.

While this rule may permit employers to hire and fire employees at their discretion, wrongful termination laws still prohibit termination for illegal reasons.

You don't need a written, official employment agreement to make it legal. However, a permanent job posting and the company's disciplinary procedures in the employee handbook can lead to a contract. Other hints of an employment agreement could be as follows:

  1. The employer makes a proposal.

  2. You accept the offer.

  3. Both you and your employer benefit from the agreement.

As a California employee, you may be concerned that your employer will dismiss you without cause, which is a reasonable concern. However, you may be the victim of workplace discrimination or wrongful termination due to particular exclusions to the at-will employment rule.

Employees will have the right to quit, cease working, or go on strike at any moment and for any reason. If a company fires an employee for a good reason, the company must also have enough evidence to justify it. Just cause is used when an employee's conduct necessitates the immediate termination of their employment contract.

Is My Boss Required To Explain Why I Was Fired?

By California Employment Law, your employer is not required to explain why you were fired. While the majority of employers provide an explanation, they often lie. If the genuine reason for your firing is illegal, your manager is likely to refuse to give you an excuse or make one up. Two common made-up justifications are "poor results" and "policy breach."

If your manager made up a false reason for firing you or if others who do the same thing are not routinely fired, this invented justification is known as a pretext. The phrase "pretext" refers to a false reason given by an employer to justify an illegal termination. The following are some examples:

  1. We have reason to suspect it was related to a physical or mental disability because your manager refuses to tell why you were fired. In addition, you just returned from a four-month medical vacation.

  2. Just as your pregnancy began to show, you were fired. Therefore, we can confidently assume that your termination was caused by your pregnancy.

  3. You were sexually harassed before being fired. We can assume you were fired because you refused to accept more insults.

  4. After raising concerns about workplace safety, revealing an unethical technique, or requesting overtime compensation, you were fired. In addition, your manager may have fired you as a form of retaliation.

When your manager gives you a reason, it helps if you either know or expect the genuine reason for your firing. If you can't figure out why you were fired, a wrongful termination attorney can help you figure it out.

Employers frequently fire employees for reasons that the employee is unaware of but are well-known to a wrongful termination attorney. One example is employees who take FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) leave regularly. Employers are required by law to grant FMLA leave, yet it is frequently inconvenient to do so. As a result, employers often invent a non-illegal excuse or justification since they can't lawfully advise the employee that FMLA leave was the basis for their termination.

If it is unclear what your grounds for a Wrongful Termination Claim are, then you should consult with a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer to help you process, investigate, and support your employee rights through legal procedures.

Legal Remedies For Employer Leave Law Violations

Employers who violate state and federal leave laws are also abusing the rights of California workers. If these workers are in this situation, they will be ignorant that they have legal options. Any deserving individual denied the legal right to take a leave of absence without penalty may sue their employer.

California law prohibits employers from interfering with an employee exercising or attempting to exercise their protected leave rights. Covered leave includes time off for you or a family member with a severe health problem. Employees who have been denied the right to a leave of absence, or who have been reprimanded or discriminated against because they took leave, may be able to file a complaint.

FMLA Protects Disabled Employees

As mentioned, there's a wide range of worker protections in California. Laws that deal with discrimination cover a lot of employee traits and gives them employment protections. These protected traits include disabled employees.

For the purposes of this article, a leave of absence is considered accommodations for disabled employees. Therefore, when an employer refuses to grant a leave or retaliates due to it, they are also violating a disabled employee's right to reasonable accommodations.

Employers must make reasonable accommodations. While they are not required to provide an employee's preferred accommodations, they still must provide accommodations when it does not cause an undue financial or operational burden on the employer. The size and financial ability of the employer and the expense, difficulty, and disturbance connected with the accommodation all play a role in assessing whether or not the accommodation is appropriate.

When an employer learns about an employee's impairment and/or any occupational challenges related to the disability, the law requires that the employer and the employee engage in a good-faith interactive method to discuss feasible adjustments. An employer who refuses to engage in a good-faith interactive approach is breaking the law and may be liable for damages.

As a result, employees are required to engage in the good faith accommodation phase. As part of the fair accommodation procedure, an employer may require medical certification of the employee's condition and any attempts to consult with the employee's medical professionals to determine what would be a suitable accommodation. Employees who decline to participate in a good-faith interactive method and are fired as a result have no legal recourse.

The courts investigate who is to blame if there is a breakdown in the interactive phase that ends in discharge or retaliation. As a result, it's critical to document your participation in every situation when you're involved in an accommodation phase. A copy of this documentation should be given to your manager or HR.

Employers are not allowed to discriminate against current or potential employees because of a disability. A pre-employment questionnaire does not include a question concerning your impairment. If you're offered a position, you'll be asked if you require any special accommodations.

An employer can refuse to hire you or fire you if your illness creates a reasonable danger to others. Because of actual health hazards, it has been considered legal to prohibit epileptics who suffer seizures from operating buses, trains, and other vehicles.

On the other hand, these hazards must be genuine, not just hypothetical. That means the employer must justify their refusal to hire you, not just outright reject your application on a loose hunch that you might be a hazard in the workplace.

FMLA Protects New Moms

As mentioned before, FMLA protections extend to a lot of discrimination cases. As a result, pregnant employees tend to ask for accommodations or request leaves. This is an understandable and quite common practice for pregnant workers.

And since they are protected by the law, pregnant women cannot be discriminated, fired, or retaliated against concerning their current pregnancy.

Pregnancy Discrimination occurs when a pregnant employee or job seeker is mistreated because of their pregnancy. Discrimination against pregnant women is illegal in California for employers with five or more employees. The law considers this to be a kind of sex discrimination.

Pregnant women can face a variety of sorts of discrimination. The following are some examples of unlawful pregnancy discrimination in the workplace:

  1. Refusing to hire a pregnant woman or one who may become pregnant in the future

  2. Getting rid of or demoting a woman due to medical difficulties relating to her pregnancy

  3. Discrimination occurs when a male refuses to make reasonable concessions for a woman's pregnancy-related issues

  4. A woman is legally entitled to time off for childbirth or medical concerns related to childbirth, so refusing to do so or threatening to fire them is illegal

  5. Discrimination against a woman who needs to breastfeed, inject, or address medical issues related to nursing

That said, pregnant employees can file for FMLA violations on top of other discrimination or adverse job action claims that target their pregnancy status. So, if you are unfortunately involved in any of the mentioned cases above, contact an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles to help you sort out your legal concerns.

Pregnancy Discrimination As A Temporary Disability

If a California employee is temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy or childbirth-related medical issues, then the employer must treat her as any other temporarily impaired employee. For example, the company can offer pregnant employees light work volumes, different assignments, FMLA leave, or unpaid leave.

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Furthermore, impairments resulting from pregnancy (for example, gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, a disease defined by pregnancy-induced hypertension and protein in the urine) might be considered impairments under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Employers must make reasonable accommodations for a pregnancy-related temporary disability that does not cause undue hardship (such as leave or adjustments that allow an employee to perform her job). In addition, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 makes proving that a medical condition is a protected impairment considerably easier.

Reasonable accommodations are required for female employees because an employer may grant extended family leave (beyond what is otherwise legally required). It may also be necessary to find adequate accommodations to change the employee's working environment and enable them to work in comfort.

A woman is considered incapacitated by her pregnancy if her doctor determines that she cannot execute one or more of her job's essential responsibilities due to her pregnancy. In addition, if a woman suffers one or more of the following conditions, her pregnancy can also render her disabled:

  1. It's impossible to get out of bed in the morning because you're unwell.

  2. If the treatment is for a prenatal or postnatal condition:

  3. The requirement for bed rest

  4. Pregnancy-related diabetes

  5. Pre-eclampsia

  6. Postpartum depression

  7. Pregnancy loss or termination, as well as pregnancy loss or termination recovery.

In these situations, a pregnancy-related disability has limited a significant life operation. If your employer refuses to give your accommodation for your temporary disability status, then find an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles to help you assert your rights.

Pregnancy-Related Leave is Legally Protected

California has five important laws that allow pregnant workers and new mothers to take time off:

  1. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (also referred to as "the FMLA")

  2. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (also referred to as "FEHA")

  3. California's Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (also referred to as "PDL")

  4. The California Family Rights Act (also referred to as "CFRA")

  5. The New Parent Leave Act

Each law has its own set of qualifying requirements. In addition, each law gives leave for different amounts of time and under other conditions.

The primary purpose of this protective law is to encourage mothers (and, in some instances, fathers) to take unpaid time at home to care for their new child without fear of losing their jobs. As a result, if an employee takes leave under one of those criteria, their employer is usually compelled to return them to the same (or similar) role.

If an employer terminates, refuses to hire, or otherwise penalizes an employee because they require (or may require) a period of pregnancy-related leave, the employer's actions are frequently considered illegal Pregnancy Discrimination and a violation of applicable leave regulations.

What Can You Get For A Discrimination Claim?

Sometimes, employees don't file claims because they think it will only cost them time and money that may not be worth it. However, if you have enough grounds to file an Employment Claim, you'll likely be successful with the right lawyer.

Here are few damages that you might be compensated for under California Labor Laws:

  1. Economic Losses. If you win your case in trial, you will be compensated financially. Put another way, you will be paid the same amount as if you had not been discriminated against.

  2. Emotional Distress Damages. Discrimination causes "pain and suffering" in these people. These can include anxiety, insecurity, and emotional pain. For example, an employee might be compensated for weight loss, insomnia, weeping spells, sadness, and loss of enjoyment of life. These damages are meant to compensate for your past and future mental pain.

  3. Punitive Damages. Punitive damages are used to make up for a company's negligent actions. These types of damages are infrequent and are limited by Supreme Court decisions in the United States. To win punitive damages, you must show that the employer acted with coercion, deception, or purpose.

  4. Lawyer's Fees. One of the most effective components of FEHA discrimination cases is the possibility to recover your employment attorney's costs in addition to your other damages. Because many discrimination claims have minor economic and emotional anguish awards, California's legislature chose to incentivize employment attorneys to keep a check on job discrimination.

Getting the right Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles dedicated to your case will get you the compensation you deserve.

Where Do You Find An FMLA Violations Lawyer In California?

If you think you were unlawfully dismissed for taking a protected leave of absence, your employer is in violation of California Employment Law. Request a lawyer referral as soon as possible.

Our pre-screened employment lawyers are knowledgeable about California employment law. In addition, they have extensive expertise in protecting the rights of California employees whose employers have broken the law. You will be able to discover trustworthy Employment Lawyers in Los Angeles to file a case against your employer for breaching California leave Act. Doing so will allow you to either return your job or recover unpaid wages and other punitive damages.

You'll need a respected and honest employment lawyer to protect your rights when your employer tries to take advantage of your employee rights to maternity leave and other protected leaves.

How Do I Obtain An Unbiased Referral To An Ethical, Pre-Screened California Employment Attorney?

Here at, you can:

  1. Make a request online at any time. Within 15 minutes, you will receive a free case review.

  2. Within 5 minutes, you'll be chatting with an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles.

Submit your case details here for a quick case review.

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