Can you be terminated from employment due to being on medical leave?

UPDATED: Apr 10, 2012

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Can you be terminated from employment due to being on medical leave?

I have been terminated from my job due to being on medical leave for a severe medical condition. I have lost my insurance and they are supposed to hire me back when I am able. However they are trying to hire my sister and they have said that if she is working there they cannot take me back.This didn’t sound right to me.

Asked on April 10, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you are on Family and Medical Act (FMLA) leave and have complied with all requirements under it, you may not be terminated for having used the leave.

Or if you had the prior agreement of the employer to take leave (only took leave after clearing it with the employer) and/or used paid time off (e.g. sick days) which you accrued to cover  your leave, they cannot terminate you, so long as you have remained within the bounds of the agreement and/or the amount of PTO you had.

If any of the above is the case and you are terminated, you may have a cause of action and should speak with an employment law attorney.

However, if you are not using FMLA leave (or you or your employer are not covered by it--go to the U.S. Department of Labor website to see eligibility, but basically, the employer must have at least 50 employees, and you must have worked there for at least 12 months total, including 1250 hours during the last 12 months), did not have prior approval of leave, and/or are not using PTO you earned as part of your compensation--that is, if you simply told your employer you were going to be out without using PTO, FMLA leave, or getting the employer's agreement to your absence--then you may be terminated. The law does not protect employees from termination for  missing work due to illness-related absences, except as  above.

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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