Can an employee be fired for legitimate medical leave.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can an employee be fired for legitimate medical leave.

My husband has had his current job for about 5 months, however about a month ago an old injury from previous employment came back into play. He has now been ordered off work by his doctor for over a month, and hasn’t been able to walk anyway. His job has just been listed online as open and he’s worried they’re going to fire him. I’m wondering what we can do since he isn’t yet protected under FMLA.

Asked on April 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Employers are not required to keep employees who cannot or will not go into work, even for legitimate medical reasons, unless those employees either have enough PTO to cover the absence (and use it), or are eligible for an use FMLA leave. Employers retain or keep employees to show up to work and do their jobs; the law does not make employers keep employees who don't do this, even for the best reasons, and the law also does not require employers to give employees different jobs (e.g. light duty ones) than the ones they were hired for or which the employer wants them to do. So in this situation, yes, your husband can be terminated.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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