What are my rights if I was terminated while under doctor’s care?

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What are my rights if I was terminated while under doctor’s care?

I was out of work starting the first week of last month due to 5 bulging discs that are keeping me in extreme pain and are requiring considerable amounts of bed rest. I wasn’t able to get into my primary care physician until almost 2 weeks ago but provided my employer with a doctor’s note per an HR request within 1 week of the appointment. The doctors did not released me from work and had me off work until the end of this month. Today, I received a termination letter and termination pay. Can anything be done legally to reverse this termination or pursue lost wages?

Asked on September 9, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

If you missed work for a medical reason without using either (or a combination of)--
1) Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") unpaid leave, assuming your company was covered (had at least 50 employees who work within a 75-mile radius) and assuming you were eligible (worked there at least one year; worked at least 1,250 hours during the past 12 months)--or used some equivalent leave provided by your state's laws; and/or
2) Paid time off ("PTO") you earned, such as sick or vacation days
--then you can be terminated. The law does not make employers retain employees who miss work without using PTO or leave (e.g. FMLA) provided by law: that is why FMLA (and some similar state leave laws) were passed in the first place, to give employees the right to at least some time off for medical needs. 
We stated the main FMLA eligibility criteria above; also look up any state medical leave laws in CA and check their applicability to you. As stated, if you missed work without some combination of legally guaranteed leave or PTO covering all the absences, you may be terminated. 
 
 


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