Does my company have to hire me back?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Does my company have to hire me back?

I am a union ironworker and last year took a medical leave of absence from my employer to have surgery on my right shoulder. At that time, my employer stated that for me to be reinstated I would have to be 100% cleared to return to work by my physician. Since the type of work I’m in, the healing process took 1 year. At the 6 month period, I called my employer to give them a status report on my condition. I left a message with my immediate supervisor but I never received a return phone call. In December I attempted to notify my employer by phone again that I had a release date to return back to work,and again, my call went unreturned. In January, I attempt to notify my employer by email this time, that I was 100% cleared and my return date would be 1/16/17 and again, no return phone call or email. After 18 years with this employer, I feel a simple response should be a respectful gesture after so many years of service. By law, is my employer obligated to re-hire me at the position I held before taking my medical leave of absence?

Asked on January 19, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The following answer ignores any rights you may have under your union contract, because they are not known to me--you should however review the contract to see what rights it provides in a situation like this.
Without regard to the contract, the employer has no obligation to rehire you. You write that you were out for a year; that is far longer than the employer would be required to hold a position and reinstate you under the law (e.g. under the Famly and Medical Leave Act, which, if it applied to your employer [i.e. if your employer had at least 50 employees] would only require they hold the job for 12 weeks). Being out they long, they do not need to rehire or reinstate you. It would be professional and respectful to respond, but the law does not enforce professionalism, unfortunately.

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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