can my employer fire me while I am on medical leave

I gave my employer a note from my doctor, stating I was under his care. I filled out forms from work for medical leave. I didn’t work enough hours for FMLA so I got turned down for that. My work place has another program if I fill out my entire medical history and my mother and father and siblings medical history then they would keep my job up to 1 year. Since I didn’t believe this was any of their business. I refused. I’m not getting any money from workman’s compensation for my medical problem. After 5 months they fired me. My question is can they legally fire me?

Asked on April 2, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It you were out and covered by the FMLA (i.e. the Family and Medical Leave Act) and you were fired solely for that fact (i.e. there was no other work related reason for your dismissal), then your termination would be illegal. Further, if you were not using any avaialble PTO (i.e. sick/vacation days) to cover your time out then your absences would be grounds for temination, since attendance is a basic job requirement. The only other recourse that you may have here is if your treatment constituted some form of actionable dscrimination or if it violated the terms of a union agreement or employment contract. Otherwise, as an "at will" worker, you could have been fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without a doctor's note (since such a note is not legally binding on an employer). In retrospesct, you probably should have filled out the forms for that program since it would have given you a year's job protection.


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