Can I be terminated while on medical leave?

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Can I be terminated while on medical leave?

I received a letter from my employer terminating my position and insurance. My
health is mentioned in a way. Not sure if this is legal. I read that I a person
cannot be terminated based on their health.

Asked on June 24, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You cannot be terminated due to using legal medical leave, such as leave under the FMLA or leave which your employer agreed to give you before you took it. If you did not come into work without using FMLA leave (or leave under  similar state law), PTO, leave you are entitled to in a contract, or leave your employer specifically agreed to let you have, then you had unexecused absences and could be terminated for it, even if you stayed out of work for health reasons.
You cannot be fired for having a health condition, BUT you may be fired for performance issues or inability to do your job, even if the reason is health related. So say that you have a herniated disk and cannot lift more than 10 lbs--if your job is in a loading bay, with inventory or deliveries, or as a repair person, etc. and you must lift more than that, you could be terminated becasue you can't do the job; the law does not make employers keep employees who can't do their jobs.
You could also be terminated for unrelated reasons, like insubordiantion, violating company policy, etc., or due to a bona fide restructuring or reoganization.


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