What is an employer’s legal obligation to give a job back to someone who has been out due to a non-work related accident?

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What is an employer’s legal obligation to give a job back to someone who has been out due to a non-work related accident?

An employee was involved in a car accident and was unable to return to work for more than a year. Recently he came back. Does the company have to give him his job back with the same status as before his accident? He has been cleared medically with no restrictions.

Asked on August 17, 2011 California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

IF there was some agreement, including a union or collective bargaining agreement--requiring that the employee be reinstated, or holding or guarantying his job--that agreement would be enforceable. However, in the absence of some agrement, the employee is an employee at will, and a company may fire an employee at will at any time, for any reason. A company also has essentially total discretion on who to hire or employ, so long as they are not discriminating against people on the basis of race, religion, sex, age over 40, disability, etc. (And if the employee is cleared medically, he's not likely disabled.)

So unless is some agreement requiring the company to give him back his job, they do not  seem to have to do so.


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