Ifmy medical leave exceeds 12 weeks, can I be fired?

UPDATED: May 23, 2011

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Ifmy medical leave exceeds 12 weeks, can I be fired?

My manager is manipulative and has been undermining me since she started at our firm. She has created a hostile work environment. Finally she has succeeded in getting me into a position where a company director threatened to take a huge project away from me. This would likely result in me losing my job. I had become increasingly depressed over her treatment of me. A few months before the threat, I started having anxiety attacks. I fell apart (inside) when my project/job was threatened. Two days after, my doctor put me on medical leave and on meds. I am pretty sure that when I go back to work or if my leave exceeds 12 weeks (FMLA), I’ll get fired. Is there anything that I can do?

Asked on May 23, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It depends.  If you're fired solely for the reason that you were on medical leave, then no it is not probably legal.  I say probably because if this leave has been for an extended period (in CA 180 days or more), your employer has the right to re-place you.  However, if you are laid because of other work-related reasons then, yes, it is legal.  Being out on medical leave does not automatically mean that you can't be terminated.  In fact, since most employment relationships are "at-will", there really doesn't have to be any reason at all.

As for your boss creating a hostle work environment, the fact is that there is no legal right to a pleasant, professional, or even respectful workplace.  Employers, supervisors, or the like can be rude and nasty.  What an employer, etc. can't do is to discriminate against an employee on the basis of a legally protected category (e.g. race, religion, age, disability status, or gender).  Additionally, an employee can be treated in such as way as to in some way to violate company policy or an employment/union contract.

Bottom line, if you are terminated and you believe it to be unlawful, you can file a complaint with the CA Department of Industrial Relations.  You may also want to discuss your situation with an attorney who specializes in employment law.

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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