Can My Employer Fire Me for Requesting Medical Leave under FMLA or CFRA?

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Can My Employer Fire Me for Requesting Medical Leave under FMLA or CFRA?

No. An employer cannot legally fire an employee just because they requested or took medical leave to take care of themselves or a close relative. Not only that, but medical leave taken under the FMLA, or California’s similar CFRA law, is job-protected. This means an employee who takes medical leave is entitled to return to their same or equivalent job position after coming back from leave.

Even if you do not qualify for medical leave, because you have worked at your job for less than one year, are part-time, or another reason, employers with at least five employees must evaluate if they can give you extended leave as a reasonable accommodation for your health condition. For example, if you have cancer and have exhausted your medical leave time but need a few more months off for chemo, your employer may be required to extend your medical leave time because cancer qualifies as a disability.

Whether an employer is required to grant extended leave depends on many factors including the nature of your work, the size and resources of the employer, your condition, and how much leave you have taken.

Of course, employers rarely admit to firing an employee because they have taken or need to take medical leave. Your employer may tell you that you are being let go for another reason, such as bad performance or a layoff. If this happens, the question becomes whether the employer’s is giving a false excuse for letting you go. If you have a good performance history before requesting leave and are suddenly written-up and fired for no good reason, then a judge or jury could decide the employer’s reason was false pretext. Or, if you are “laid off” but no one else is let go, or your same or similar job is reposted, then your employer probably had another motive, such as your medical leave. If so, then the employer may be liable for wrongful termination.

If your employer refuses to grant medical leave, or terminates you instead, then you should contact an employment lawyer immediately.

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