Is my boss allowed to fire me while I am on leave?

Workers are allowed to take time off for an illness or serious health condition under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). In California the employee can take time off to care for a child (including adult children), spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, brother, or sister. The laws make it illegal for an employer to fire an employee simply because they have taken medical leave.

Medical leave taken under the FMLA or CFRA is job-protected. This means a worker who goes on medical leave has the right to retain the same or similar position after returning from their time off.

A worker cannot be fired or otherwise punished for taking protected medical leave. However, if the employer’s reason for firing you has nothing to do with your medical leave, the termination may be lawful. Taking medical leave does not protect you from being fired for some other reason.

There are several legitimate reasons a worker may no longer be employed upon returning from medical leave. Some examples include a situation where the job does not exist anymore due to a general lay-off, or if the employee fails to follow the employer’s policies about medical leave, such as taking leave without providing notice.

Determining whether the firing of an employee is legal is not always straightforward. Sometimes an employer may use a false pretext to cover up the wrongful termination of a worker who goes on medical leave.

If you suspect your employer fired you for unlawful reasons in connection with your medical leave, discuss your situation with a San Francisco employment lawyer. McCormack Law Firm can review the reason and timing of your firing to help you figure out if you have a valid wrongful termination claim.

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