Do I have a case for wrongful termination?

I worked for my company for 15 years. I had to go into the hospital, when I was released was I could return to work as long as I could tolerate it. However, I was not feeling well, so I called

boss and told him I was making a follow-up appointment with my doctor. The next available was 8 days out. The hospital diagnosis was COPD low oxygen My boss said for me to let him know what the doctor said. I was told that I could return to light duty but my boss said he had to check with HR because we have no light duty. I not hear back for 2 days so I called and when I did I was told that I was suspended without pay because I was not keeping in touch but he had hospital papers and 2 doctor’s notes. I then called HR, who is the payroll company, and they then told me my employment was terminated, although I received not prior notice. Is any of this legal? If not, what can I do about it?

Asked on June 26, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A company does not have to create "light duty" for employees when there is none. And if an employee is out/absent from work, then unless he or she--
1) Used paid time off to cover the absences (e.g. sick days); and/or
2) Qualified for (and the employer was covered by) FMLA leave and properly used FMLA leave (e.g. told the company he/she was using FMLA leave)
--he or she may be terminated; employers do not need to retain employees who miss work without using PTO or FMLA leave, even due to medical reasons. There is also no need for notice of termination, unless you had a written employment contract requiring notice. So if you simply missed work without using PTO or FMLA, the termination was likely proper.
However, if you did use PTO and/or FMLA and were terminated, that may be wrongful termination; if that was the case, consult with an employment law attorney about taking legal action.

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