can my employer fire me while I am on medical leave

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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can my employer fire me while I am on medical leave

I gave my employer a note from my doctor, stating I was under his care. I filled out forms from work for medical leave. I didn’t work enough hours for FMLA so I got turned down for that. My work place has another program if I fill out my entire medical history and my mother and father and siblings medical history then they would keep my job up to 1 year. Since I didn’t believe this was any of their business. I refused. I’m not getting any money from workman’s compensation for my medical problem. After 5 months they fired me. My question is can they legally fire me?

Asked on April 2, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It you were out and covered by the FMLA (i.e. the Family and Medical Leave Act) and you were fired solely for that fact (i.e. there was no other work related reason for your dismissal), then your termination would be illegal. Further, if you were not using any avaialble PTO (i.e. sick/vacation days) to cover your time out then your absences would be grounds for temination, since attendance is a basic job requirement. The only other recourse that you may have here is if your treatment constituted some form of actionable dscrimination or if it violated the terms of a union agreement or employment contract. Otherwise, as an "at will" worker, you could have been fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without a doctor's note (since such a note is not legally binding on an employer). In retrospesct, you probably should have filled out the forms for that program since it would have given you a year's job protection.

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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