Was my mom fired illegally?
UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022
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Was my mom fired illegally?
My mother was initially injured at work on 03/30 and went on leave under workers’ comp. She has a history of back issues and hence has previous MRI’s. The doctors her workman comp sent her decided to use MRI’s from 2 years ago. She was put on physical therapy treatment and was cleared to return 06/23. The pain never went away and she reached a point where she could no longer work on 09/27. She was then told by her doctor that she needed surgery. She was contacting her manager with each piece of information. She had surgery on 11/14. On 11/27 she received a phone call from her manager, letting her know that her position was terminated but she’s not fired. My mother called her HR at that time and left a voice message. Then, 2 days later, HR returned her call string that
she is indeed fired. At no point and time did her employer attempt to contact her and discuss and kind of accommodations for her job or get an update for potential date of return to work.
Asked on December 8, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 4 years ago | Contributor
Based on what you write, she missed amost three months of work (3/30 to 6/23) and then another at least two months (9/27 to 11/27), or 5 months total. If that is the case, her termination was legal:
1) Worker's compensation does NOT let you miss work--it pays you when you are injured, but does not provide legal grounds to not go to work.
2) There is no general right to miss work for medical reasons, even work-related injuries, apart from using FMLA leave or leave under similar state leave laws. But even if such leave was available to your mother (which it may not have been if she worked for a smaller company; generally only companies with 50 or more employees are covered), such leave laws only provide up to three months of unpaid leave--not five.
Therefore, if your mother missed approximately 5 months (give or take) or more of work, her employer could terminate her; the law does not require employers to retain employees who miss so much work.
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