If you are off work recovering from an injury or illness, you might think that your employer cannot legally fire you. But is that really so? After all, the laws regulating whether or not you can be fired due to long-term disability are not as simple as they seem at first sight.
To answer the question of whether or not your employer can legally fire you while on disability leave, our employment law attorney in California at Mancini & Associates says it depends on whether you are taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA).
It also depends on whether you are collecting workers’ compensation benefits or temporary or permanent disability benefits. However, even if you are collecting short-term or long-term disability (LTD) insurance benefits, your boss may still be able to legally fire you, as LTD insurance policies offer no protections for long-term disability.
Do keep in mind that your employer in California can always legally fire you or lay you off if he or she can prove the firing to be a business necessity or that your bad performance at work has nothing to do with your temporary or permanent disability.
Our California employment law lawyer also warns that in certain situations, all of which are clearly identified in California employment law, you can legally be fired even when on disability leave. To do so, your employer will have to make sure that his or her actions are consistent with the regulations set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“Can I be legally fired by my employer while on disability leave covered by the FMLA?” you may be wondering. Under the FMLA, you have a right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to treat your physical or mental injury or illness. However, this job protection under the FMLA does not extend to most employees who work for small businesses. To be eligible for FMLA’s job protections, you must work for an employer that has at least 50 workers.
Therefore, if you are eligible for FMLA’s job protections, your employer cannot terminate your employment due to your short-term or long-term disability.
The same can be said about employees whose disability leave is protected by the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Our experienced employment law attorney in California explains that your employer cannot fire you just because you are on medical leave under the CFRA.
In order to determine whether or not you were wrongfully terminated while on disability leave, courts will look into the reason you were fired, rather than the timing. If your employer has a reason to fire you that has nothing to do with your medical condition, disability, and/or medical leave, your firing will most likely not be protected under the FMLA or CFRA.
With the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it’s not that complicated. Under the ADA, you may be eligible for job protections even after the 12 weeks of your FMLA-protected leave ended. In addition to that, the ADA covers more small businesses (instead of 50 employees, your employer must have at least 15 workers for the ADA job protections to apply).
However, your employer may still be able to legally fire you if he or she can demonstrate evidence that the company exhausted all options to accommodate your disability. If you and your employer cannot agree on any accommodations that would be reasonable and would allow you to perform your duties, your boss may have a legal reason for the firing.
If you were wrongfully terminated due to short-term or long-term disability, you may have a right to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer to seek compensation.
Determine whether your firing while on disability leave is illegal or not by consulting with our employment law attorney in California. Contact us for a free case evaluation today. Call at 818-783-5757.