Can I be terminated from my job while on a medical leave?

I have been on leave 5 months now with numerous medical specialists stating that I cannot return to work in my condition. My job ha tried to fire me twice so far. Is this legal?

Asked on October 22, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) You can be fired  at any time--on leave or off--for reasons unrelated to the leave or medical condition, which are themselves valid e.g. poor performance layo-offs or restructuring.
2) You write that you have been on leave for 5 months--how? FMLA leave, for example, even when its applicable, is only up to 12 weeks/3 months. If you have been out for longer than the combination of unpaid leave under FMLA plus a similar state law and any PTO (e.g. sick or vacation days) you had to use, then you are currently on an unexcused absence, and may be fired for that reason--regardless of whether you have a medical condition or doctor's note. The employer does not need to hold you job indefinitely, only for as long as you have approved leave or PTO.

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