If I have been on medical leave under doctor’s care, can I be terminated?

I have been sending my off work notice to my direct supervisor via email. Yesterday morning I receive a UPS package and it was a letter of Termination from my employer. My doctor has me off work due to stress. My doctor has me off for the next week off through 8/21/15. But I was wondering do I have a case? I followed all steps needed and I was terminated while on medical leave.

Asked on August 16, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

What do you mean by "medical leave"? If you mean that you were still on (were eligible for, had applied for, and had not used up) leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they cannot terminate you while using or for using FMLA leave; if they did, you may be able sue them for wrongful termination and retaliation for using your legal, FMLA rights.

If you mean that the employer had promised or agreed to let you have leave *before* you took it, and you took leave only based on that promise or agreement, then you may have a claim for the breach of the promise or agreement. This would be either a breach of contract and/or a promissory estoppel claim.

However, if you mean that you unilaterally (without your employer's agreement or consent) took leave from work based on your doctor's advice, then they may terminate you. Your doctor has no authority over the employer, and employers are not required to employ or retain employees who cannot or do not work or who are absent without permission (unless, as noted above, the employee was eligible for and using FMLA leave).


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