Can my employer fire me because I need time off to treat cancer?

UPDATED: Jan 27, 2011

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Can my employer fire me because I need time off to treat cancer?

My employer fired me after I requested time off to treat cancer. I have only been with the company for 4 months when I was diagnossed and did not qualify for FMLA. When I requested a leave of absence to have surgery and chemo they told me that they would give me 1 week off. If I did not return after a week they would let me go. I was not able to return after a week and was fired while I was still in the hospital. It feels wrong how I was discharged but I want to know if I have a case legally speaking?

Asked on January 27, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Every state has laws concerning the protection of certain classes of people.  Every state also has laws concerning whether you are considered an at will employee, and if you can be fired with or without cause.  The problem you have is you were only employed by this company for four months, so you didn't qualify for FMLA (because you have to be employed for at least one year and your employer has to qualify by its size of its employees).  Even if the entity truly fired you because of your cancer and required cancer treatment, it would be hard to prove. If you have anything in writing showing you were only given one week, it may help prove they discriminated against you but whether the discrimination has to do with a covered item (say like being fired for being pregnant), you would need to talk to a labor lawyer about it. Talk to counsel, because it will at least help you decide that aside from unemployment, what you can do to help and protect yourself.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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