As a California employee, you are eligible for the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave for up to 12 weeks of family or protected health leave from work over a 12-month period. The CFRA applies to you if your California employer has more than five employees and if you have worked at least 20 workweeks in the previous calendar year.
Outside of the state of California, you are eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for leave if:
- Your business employs at least 50 workers within a 75-mile radius of the workplace.
- You have been working in the company for at least 12 months.
- You accumulated at least 1,250 hours of work during the 12 months before sick leave.
But what happens if your boss or supervisor fires you while you are on medical leave?
Any eligible employee taking medical leave under the FMLA or CFRA must be reinstated to their previous job or one that is comparable to the position they held before leaving.
If your supervisor fires you while you are on medical leave or when you return, you may have a wrongful termination claim. However, it would be best to speak to an employment attorney as there are cases where firing an employee on medical leave is legal. Some of these reasons may include performance issues before taking leave or an unambiguous reduction in the workforce by the company that applied to multiple employees. It is important to note that you may be able to claim wrongful termination even if the company presents a “legitimate” reason for letting you go.
What compensation can you receive?
If your employer unfairly fires you for taking medical leave, you could claim the following:
- Late payment
- Advance payment (compensation for lost future wages)
- Attorney’s fees
- Liquidated damages (when the employer acted in bad faith).