Can I be terminated while on medical Leave?

Asked about 1 year ago - Northridge, CA

I took FMLA for medical leave and my doctor extended my leave for another month. I work for a company that is unionized. I got a call from my rep stating that HR called her. I asked if I am being terminated, she said they can terminate me by mail pending consult with the company's attorney stating I took a stress leave knowing I will be terminated. I took a stress leave because they were hinting to terminate me by suspending me pending investigation. I have no idea was basis, my union doesn't know the basis. Now my FMLA is expired but I am still under a care of a physician. I have the company's policy stating if an employee is being terminated, the Union and supervisor my consult HR if termination is appropriate. I also feel like I am being discriminated against.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Marilynn Mika Spencer

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Your situation involves a lot of different legal issues! Just your luck that it is so complicated. You have union issues, FMLA issues, FEHA/ADA issues (because extended leave can be a reasonable accommodation under law), workers' compensation issues and perhaps more. Not surprisingly, you will need to consult with one or more experienced employment law attorneys with whom you can discuss the details of your situation. There is no realistic way to address all this here on a Q & A board such as Avvo.

    But to answer your direct question: Yes, you can be terminated while on medical leave but you cannot be terminated BECAUSE you are on medical leave, at least not under many circumstances. There are various sources of POTENTIAL protection related to your medical status.

    If the condition is due to a disability as defined by law, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. sections 12101 et seq. (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, California Government Code sections 12900, et seq. (FEHA) may provide some protection. Please look at my guide on the ADA: and also on the differences between the ADA and California’s more generous FEHA: The ADA applies to employers with at least 15 employees; the FEHA requires only 5 employees. These laws protect you from discrimination (adverse treatment) DUE TO disability and also require the employer to provide reasonable accommodation (change in the manner in which work is done) so you can do the main parts of the job (essential functions). A leave of absence can be a proper reasonable accommodation.

    There is limited protection if the illness or injury is caused by a serious medical condition as that is defined by law. You may be protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. section 2101 et seq. (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act, Government Code section 12945.2 (CFRA) if all of the following is true: (a) your employer has at least 50 employees who work within 75 miles of one another; and (b) you have worked for this employer for at least one year all together, even if not consecutively; (c) you have worked for this employer at least 1,250 hours in the immediately preceding year; and (d) you have a serious medical condition as defined by the FMLA. The FMLA allows employees to take leaves of absence from work without repercussion, up to a maximum of 12 weeks per year. Leave can be in increments as short as fractions of an hour.

    Please look at my guide on the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. section 2101 et seq. (FMLA) to see if that law applies in your situation: California’s CFRA is the same as the FMLA in all areas other than pregnancy disability and enforcement.

    Finally, if the condition is due to on-the-job injury, is caused by work or is made worse by work, California’s workers' compensation laws may provide some relief. To find a workers' compensation attorney, please look at the membership list of the California Applicant Attorneys Association (CAAA) CAAA is the strongest bar association in California for attorneys who represent injured workers.

    Your rights under each of these three laws are independent of one another. That is, you may be entitled to protection from each of these laws at the same time.

    (continued in Comment below) *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the... more
  2. Kristine S Karila

    Contributor Level 16

    Answered . Yes your employment may be terminated while out on FMLA leave IF the reason is not because of your medical condition or any other protected class (age, race, religion, pregnancy, gender, etc.) And FMLA only protects your job for up to 12 weeks.

Avvo instant logo@2x

Need an answer to your questions within 15 minutes?

  • 30-minute phone call
  • Ask any questions
  • $99 flat fee
  • Money-back guarantee
Talk to an attorney now

Can't find what you're looking for?

Ask span5@2x

Ask a question on our public forum.

Ask a lawyer
Instant span6@2x

Have an attorney contact you privately.

Right now.

Icon lock@2x
Secure conversation. Your details remain between you and your attorney.
Icon clock@2x
Get an answer guaranteed. Be assured that a lawyer will contact you to help with your legal issue.
Start your session now