Can My Employer Fire Me When I’m On Leave?

Losing your job is a tough situation. In the past year, the unemployment rate reached an all-time high due to the pandemic. As of last July, 19.9 million people were unemployed. Whether you had a suspicion that termination might happen or it came out of the blue, it leaves you in a place scrambling to figure out where your next source of income will be. 

If you were on leave, you may have been unfairly terminated. Employees on leave have rights, and if those are violated, you can bring forth legal action and seek recourse. 

Robinson Bradford LLP will defend your rights if you have been discriminated against while taking your lawful leave. We are skilled litigators, dedicated advocates, and experienced negotiators who will fight relentlessly for you. We represent clients in and around Stockton, California, Temecula, California, and Costa Mesa, California.

Laws Protecting Leave Rights 

There are several federal laws, as well as state laws, that protect employees on leave in a variety of situations:

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The Family Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment. It allows for reasonable accommodations to be made for those with disabilities at work, including a need for leave.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA): The Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as pregnancy leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.
  • California Family Rights Act: The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) authorizes eligible employees to take a total of up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period. While on leave, employees keep the same employer-paid health benefits they had while working. Employees can take this time for various familial reasons, such as caring for an immediate family member or the birth or adoption of a child. 

An employer cannot terminate an employee on leave if they are protected by the laws above. This can fall under discrimination and is illegal.

When an Employer May Terminate an Employee On Leave

While these laws protect employees in many situations taking leave, there are still circumstances where you can be fired while on leave. If you work for an employer that is not covered by state or federal leave laws or anti-discrimination laws, or if there is a mass layoff, you can be terminated. Many people are "at-will" employees so they can be fired for a number of legal reasons.

Getting the Experience Legal Guidance You Need

If you took a leave of absence and your employer terminated your employment, it might have been an illegal termination. Knowing your leave rights is important and will help you assess whether to file a claim or complaint against your employer. An experienced employment law attorney can help in this situation.

Our firm can investigate and guide you through the claims or litigation process. We will listen to your case, communicate your options, and help you fight passionately against discrimination. If you live in Stockton, California, Temecula, California, or Costa Mesa, California, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with knowledgeable employment law attorneys.


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