Can I lose my job due to taking emergency leave?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I lose my job due to taking emergency leave?

I worked at a pre-school where my son also attended the school. He was diagnosed with ADHD and his teachers were not able to handle him and making his situation wrong in the classroom. About 2 weeks ago, I was called into his classroom as he was having an outburst. When I got to the room both teachers were outside the classroom with the children leaving my son to have his outburst alone. Then 5 minuets later, I was called into the classroom again, during those 5

minutes I was watching the cameras in the room to see what my son was doing. I observed him sitting with his classmates and then he got up to move around the room. At this time is when I was called into the room. The teachers had removed themselves and the kids again, one teacher had there foot in the door but he was still left alone. I felt this treatment towards him and the handling of the situation was unacceptable. So I took my son and told my boss that I needed to take my lunch break. I then reached out to my boss explaining that I no longer want my son attending the school because of the way he was being treated and it was affecting his emotional wellbeing. Later that evening, I sent her an email letting her know that needed to take a leave and would be able to return once I had my son situated in another school that I already had been working with prior to this situation. I explained as a parent what I was noticing taking place in the classroom and how my son was being treated and I no longer was able to let my son go through that anymore. I had a meeting with her yesterday to discuss my job and was told that since I took a leave she had distributed my job duties to other employees and it wouldn’t be

fair to take them back once I would return, so she doesn’t have a position for me anymore. I was

pretty much fired.

Asked on February 9, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Did you have and use paid time off (PTO) you had earned or accrued for your leave? If so, you cannot be terminated--the law does not let you be fired for using compensation you earned (the PTO), since if you could be, that would deprive you of the benefit you worked for. If you used PTO but were terminated, contact an employment lawyer about possibly suing.
But if you simply took leave without using PTO, you could be terminated: the law does NOT give you the right to take "emergency" leave from work to get a child situaated in a different school, and any worker who misses work without using PTO may be terminated.
Moreover, if you are fired for missing work (i.e. for absenteeism), that is termination "for cause" and if your employer challenges your application for unemployment, you could be denied unemployment benefits.

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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