Terminated while on maternity leave?

I am a nurse at a convalescent hospital
in california. I started my maternity
leave 3 weeks ago due to high risk for
pre-term labor. We knew the company was
going to be sold a year ago but the
question was when. They kept saying
next month and it would never happen.
Well I get a voice-mail today stating
it was indeed sold and I have 24 hours
to come fill out a 100 page application
or I will no longer be considered an
employee. I guess everyone has to fill
out such application. It’s just fishy
to me how I am on a medical leave and
they tell me I have to come in to work
in 24 hours to do this or else. I’m
reluctant to fill out the application.
I know if I don’t I will not be an
employee but would I qualify for
unemployment after the disability ends?
I’m just unsure what my rights are

Asked on September 8, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You can't be terminated because you took or used maternity leave. However, being on leave does not prevent termination for completely unrelated and themselves valid reasons. For example, if they had discovered you had stolen or embezzled from work, or used drugs at work, they could terminate you upon discovering that, even if you were on leave; and if the company is sold and they are terminating (or at least reviewing for retention vs. termination) all employees (or at least all employees in certain departments and/or with certain jobs and/or at certain levels), then you could be terminated as part of that, and may be required to comply with the same review/applicatio/etc. process as everyone else in the same boat. Only if they are essentially only targeting you right now (few, if any, other employees have been put in the same position as you) and are using the sale as a pretext to terminate you because of you leave or because you are a new mother, etc. would this illegal.
You should be able to collect unemployment afterwards if you lose your job for this reason. More importantly, there is no penalty for applying truthfully and in good faith, even if denied, so plan on applying.

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