Can a employer fire you just after returning from medical leave?

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Can a employer fire you just after returning from medical leave?

Can they use doctor/specialist time off against you?

Asked on April 2, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The anwer is, "it depends":

1) You can't be fired for using Family and Medical Leave Act Leave, if you and your company, were both covered by FMLA: or for using a similar state leave law.

2) You can't be fired simply because you are disabled (if your condition qualifies as a disability).

3) You can't be fired if the company agreed to let you take leave and that was the reason you took the leave.


4) Unless FMLA or a similar state law were involved, companies are not obligated to provide medical leave at all--which means they can terminate employees who miss work for medical reasons (unless the employee was using some accrued or earned PTO to cover the leave), either as soon as the employee goes out or afterwards.

Note that even if you qualified for and used FMLA leave, if you exceeded the 12 weeks you get per year, you could then be fired.

5) If you come back unable to do the job, even with reasonable accomodations, they can terminate you--employers don't need to retain employees who can't do their work.

6) If you lied to the employer about, or even did not keep the employer accurately informed as to, the time you needed off and the reason for, they could likely fire you for that reason.

7) You could be fired for wholly unrelated reasons (e.g. poor performance, violating company policy).

It's not clear what you mean by saying that "doctor/specialist time off" was used against you--you may wish to repost your question with more detail.

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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