If I have been on medical leave under doctor’s care, can I be terminated?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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If I have been on medical leave under doctor’s care, can I be terminated?

I have been sending my off work notice to my direct supervisor via email. Yesterday morning I receive a UPS package and it was a letter of Termination from my employer. My doctor has me off work due to stress. My doctor has me off for the next week off through 8/21/15. But I was wondering do I have a case? I followed all steps needed and I was terminated while on medical leave.

Asked on August 16, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

What do you mean by "medical leave"? If you mean that you were still on (were eligible for, had applied for, and had not used up) leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they cannot terminate you while using or for using FMLA leave; if they did, you may be able sue them for wrongful termination and retaliation for using your legal, FMLA rights.

If you mean that the employer had promised or agreed to let you have leave *before* you took it, and you took leave only based on that promise or agreement, then you may have a claim for the breach of the promise or agreement. This would be either a breach of contract and/or a promissory estoppel claim.

However, if you mean that you unilaterally (without your employer's agreement or consent) took leave from work based on your doctor's advice, then they may terminate you. Your doctor has no authority over the employer, and employers are not required to employ or retain employees who cannot or do not work or who are absent without permission (unless, as noted above, the employee was eligible for and using FMLA leave).

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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