Can You Be Fired From a Job While on Leave with a Disability?

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Can You Be Fired From a Job While on Leave with a Disability?

Short and long-term disability insurance intends to provide cash benefits to employees who cannot work due to medical reasons. What disability recipients may not realize is that these benefits do not offer much job protection, if at all. There are cases where an employer may be legally permitted to terminate an employee receiving disability benefits; however, some situations would give an employee the grounds to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. If you were fired while taking disability leave, Jeannette A. Vaccaro is available to review your situation at a consultation. Call for case-specific advice. 

FMLA Job Protections

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that grants employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to handle their medical problems or care for an immediate family member. FMLA isn’t applicable to all workplaces, and for those that are, specific requirements need to be met before an employee is given leave. The company needs to have 50 or more workers within a 75 mile radius, and workers must have been with the company for at least one year and have worked for a minimum of 1,250 hours in the previous year. 

Can An Employer Fire Someone Taking Disability Leave?

Employers are not allowed to terminate someone taking FMLA leave as long as that individual does not exceed 12 weeks of leave each year. Upon your return from your FMLA leave, you are entitled to your original position or a similar one. In fact, employers usually require their employees to take FMLA leave when they’re on disability. Therefore, FMLA is often the main form of job protection an employee with a disability can receive. 

How the ADA Can Protect Your Employment Status

Most employment in the United States is an “at-will” agreement, meaning employees can be terminated for almost any reason. However, employees with disabilities are protected on a federal level from being fired on the basis of a disability via the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

According to the ADA, the definition of disability is “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” Employers with 15 or more workers are required to offer reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities given it will not cause undue hardship. The employee must report their disability to their boss to receive such accommodations. 

A few examples of accommodations include adjusting an employee’s work schedule or duties, altering desks and making a space more accessible for wheelchairs. Providing extra unpaid leave is also a possible accommodation, and during this period, your employer cannot fire you. 

What Types of Accommodations Are Reasonable?

A reasonable accommodation includes that which does not cause hardship for the employer. Since companies vary in size and have varying budgets, this may be different on a case-by-case basis. If the employer cannot provide reasonable accommodations for the employee to complete all necessary functions of the job, they can be legally terminated. 

Contact A San Francisco Employment Attorney

Employees taking disability leave may be covered by federal protections under the ADA, meaning employees cannot be fired while they are taking FMLA leave. If you believe you may have been wrongfully terminated, contact Jeannette A. Vaccaro to discuss your case at a private consultation.

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