What are my rights if I was fired from job while out on medical leave?

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What are my rights if I was fired from job while out on medical leave?

I was terminated from employment while out on temp disability. However, my employer knew that I was coming back.

Asked on February 17, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The isssue is *why* were you terminated? If you were on approved or legally mandated (e.g. FMLA) leave, you could not be fired because you were on leave; and you could not be fired because you had a medical condition (that is illegal disability-based discrimination). However, being on leave or having a medical issue does not protect you from being fired for unrelated reasons like--
* a legitimate restructuring or downsizing (i.e. one that was not just a pretext to get rid of you) that resulted in your job being eliminated
* performance issues, such as if you can be demonstrated to have not been doing your job right
* other for cause reasons for termination, like insubordination or lying to your employer, stealing from the employer, refusing to follow employer instructions, etc.
Being on leave doesn't protect from non-leave, non-medical termination if the non-leave, non-medical reason was valid. You don't have to take what your employer says at face value in this regard, however, and if you think they just made up an excuse, could sue them and let a court decide who is right and who is wrong.


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