Can An Employee Be Terminated While On Medical Leave?

Updated: Jan 27

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 se