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To-Do’s When My Employer Fires Due to My Medical Problem

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What to do when my employer fires me due to my medical problem? The unsettling scenario of being terminated from employment due to a medical problem sends ripples of concern through the hearts of many. Though the laws protecting employee rights may differ across regions, a prevailing principle remains steadfast—dismissal based on serious health conditions or disabilities is generally prohibited. In this in-depth article, we delve into the actions to take when facing termination due to medical issues.

Navigating Employer & Employee Rights for Ill or Hospitalized Workers

Amid the unpredictability of life, an unforeseen injury may strike, leading to a compulsory stay at the hospital with uncertain timelines. An unsettling question arises—can you be unjustly dismissed during this vulnerable period? California employment law attorneys embark on the task of unraveling the complex interplay between illness and employment, shedding light on whether employers possess the right to terminate workers for illness-related reasons.

If you find yourself a victim of wrongful termination due to illness, do not hesitate to seek solace in the support of our California employment law lawyer. Reach out to us today at (888) 796-4010 or initiate contact online to schedule a comprehensive case review!

Can My Employer Fire Me for Being Sick?

California operates as an at-will state, a realm where employers retain the prerogative to terminate employment with or without cause, as long as it aligns with state and federal law. Unveiling the nature of your employment agreement as “at-will” requires a perusal of your employment contract.

Nevertheless, certain exceptions serve as beacons of protection, outlining instances where terminations cannot be legitimized. Should you find yourself hospitalized, rest assured, your employer cannot wield the sword of dismissal with impunity. The shield of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) envelops you, safeguarding you against unjust consequences when illness disrupts your work attendance.

Within the realm of the FMLA, qualifying employees are entitled to claim up to 12 weeks per year of paid or unpaid leave, catering to specific medical exigencies. In addition, the California Family Rights Act extends its benevolent embrace to protect the following:

– Pregnant workers
– New parents
– Military families
– Domestic violence victims

Qualifying for FMLA’s sanctuary necessitates meeting specific criteria. You must have served the employer for at least one year, and your FMLA protection shall bloom precisely one year after your commencement of employment. Moreover, you must have diligently clocked at least 1,250 work hours during the preceding 12-month period as the leave takes effect. Lastly, your employer should be composed of at least 50 employees, consolidating the foundation of FMLA eligibility.

What If My Employer Fired Me?

In the event that you indeed qualify for FMLA protection and yet find yourself the victim of a regrettable termination while being hospitalized, you are not defenseless. Empowerment resides within your reach, as you can pursue justice by filing a claim against your employer. This proactive step not only lends support in recovering the losses incurred post-dismissal but also holds your employer accountable for their actions. When navigating the intricate path of filing a claim, seeking the counsel of an experienced employment law attorney becomes a beacon of wisdom, as they skillfully weave a strong case on your behalf.

What to Do When My Employer Fires Due to My Medical Problem?

Indeed, if you are grappling with a disability, the shield of reasonable accommodation should be extended, allowing you to fulfill your job responsibilities with grace, to do when my employer fires me due to my medical problem.

Family and Medical Leave: A Sanctuary Amidst Illness

In the realm of serious illnesses, injuries, or protected physical maladies under the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), a bastion of relief emerges in the form of unpaid leave for up to 12 months, as EmploymentLoopharms asserts.

If you fall under the canopy of AMML (Alternative Medical and Medical Leave), meeting the criteria of being employed by an entity with 50 or more workers, serving the employer for at least a year, and dedicating a minimum of 1,250 hours annually, you become eligible. Certain states embrace their own family and medical leave laws, bestowing the liberty to temporarily step away from work without the sword of termination looming for health-related reasons.

Workers’ Compensation Leave: The Balance Between Protection and Vulnerability

Throughout most states, employers are mandated to hold workers’ compensation insurance—a safeguard against adversity in the workplace. In specific situations and dependent on location, an employer may exercise the option to terminate employment if an employee is on workers’ compensation leave due to a job-related injury or illness. The rationale may revolve around the need to fill the vacant position without prolonged waiting for the employee’s recovery and return, as expressed on the Nolo website.

Conversely, other states stand firm in the requirement for employers to welcome the return of employees following workers’ compensation leave, securing the bond between work and recovery.

Americans with Disabilities Act: A Shield Against Discrimination

Ensconced within the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal government bars your employer from discriminatory practices based on disability. A haven of reasonable accommodations opens its doors, catering to your needs while encompassing respite from work, as long as the core job requirements are met.

However, the ADA also acknowledges the employer’s limitations, permitting the withholding of accommodations that prove unduly burdensome or financially unfeasible. For instance, recurring extended absences or long-term time off may prompt the employer to conclude that the job’s essential functions cannot be fulfilled, despite reasonable accommodations.

Receiving Disability Benefits: A Diverse Landscape

While on unpaid leave due to grave health conditions, the possibility of eligibility for disability benefits emerges. Whether receiving workers’ compensation, social security, or other disability insurance benefits, your employer should not utilize this as grounds for exclusion, as each program adheres to distinct definitions of “disability,” as Nolo expounds.

However, your employer may still terminate your employment if you fail to return to work following FMLA leave or have not applied for FMLA when needed, or if you are unable to perform job duties even with reasonable accommodations. Sometimes, the need for respite may become paramount, leading to unforeseen circumstances, and to-do when my employer fires me due to my medical problem.

In the realm of employer-employee relationships, the path meanders through intricate and often challenging territories. Knowing your rights and understanding the provisions set forth by the law becomes an armor, shielding against injustice. In times of adversity, seek counsel, and remember that navigating the labyrinth of legal protection is your right and your fortitude.

Is It Wrongful Termination to be Fired While on Medical Leave?

The vexing query lingers: can an employer lawfully terminate an employee for missing work due to an illness? Does possessing a doctor’s excuse offer any reprieve from such an ordeal? These inquiries serve as mere glimpses into the intricate labyrinth of employment law, a realm inundated with myriad questions our astute attorneys frequently encounter.

The crux of the matter lies in the concept of “at-will” employment, a facet that bestows employers with the latitude to terminate employees with or without reason, abiding by state and federal law. Unless covered by the protective veil of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employee’s absence due to illness remains susceptible to being a causative factor for dismissal. FMLA, the sole sanctuary within Michigan’s borders, offers much-coveted job protection for individuals qualifying under its umbrella—both employee and employer must meet the criteria, and the leave must be for a qualifying reason.

To discern if a medical leave merits FMLA’s protective mantle, Gold Star Law’s employment attorneys embark on a meticulous investigation. Unraveling the tapestry begins by ascertaining whether the employee falls under FMLA’s aegis. A minimum one-year tenure with the employer, combined with clocking at least 1,250 hours within the preceding year, qualifies an employee for FMLA coverage. Simultaneously, scrutinizing the employer’s stature is imperative, as FMLA extends its shield only to establishments boasting 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

Once both employee and employer meet FMLA’s requisites, the attorneys delve deeper to ascertain if the medical leave qualifies for coverage. FMLA extends protection to leaves caused by an employee’s serious illness or injury or those prompted by caring for a parent, spouse, or child with a serious illness or injury. Defining the threshold of a “serious illness or injury” necessitates meticulous case-by-case scrutiny. While missing work due to a common cold may not meet the bar, the imperative nature of cancer treatment might secure coverage, contingent on fulfilling other prerequisites. Moreover, FMLA affords the employee the right to protected medical leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

Naturally, employers may have specific procedures dictating the employee’s compliance with leave approval, and FMLA safeguards an employee’s job for up to 12 weeks of medical leave per year. However, exceeding the 12-week limit may precipitate the employer’s discretion to terminate employment.

While the FMLA governs the contours of medical leave, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ventures beyond, carving room for specific scenarios. Under the ADA, an employer may be obliged to provide time off as a reasonable accommodation if it does not cause undue hardship to the employer. Thus, even if the employee does not qualify for FMLA coverage—e.g., employed in a firm with less than 50 employees or less than a year of tenure—ADA could extend its benevolence in the form of a slightly extended leave, underlining the contrasting standards between FMLA and ADA concerning undue hardship.

In conclusion, the interplay between illness-related absence and employment law evokes multifarious considerations. Each case demands a discerning eye and comprehensive understanding, for exceptions and nuances abound, shaping the final narrative. The canvas of employer-employee relations remains vibrant, with laws serving as the color palette, painting a picture of equity and protection for all parties involved.

Things Everyone Should Know About Employment Law

Termination, though unjust, may not always be unlawful. Under the “at-will” employment paradigm, employers hold the prerogative to dismiss employees without cause, and no obligation exists to provide reasons for such action. Nevertheless, exceptions do exist to this rule, delineating circumstances where termination would constitute illegal conduct by an employer.

The delineations of illegality encompass:

1. Discrimination: Employers cannot dismiss employees based on race, sex, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity (including transgender status), age, disability (including pregnancy), medical condition, language (or accent), or marital status.

2. Breach of Contract: If an employer breaches a contract, such as a union agreement, the termination would be considered illegal. An “implied contract” may exist if the employee reasonably expects continued employment, driven by extended service, job security promises, consistent promotions, and positive performance evaluations.

3. Retaliation: Employees are protected from retaliation for exercising their legal rights, such as filing claims for unpaid wages.

4. Whistleblowing: Termination due to reporting the employer to a government agency or the police constitutes illegal conduct.

Access to Your Personnel File

California Labor Code Section 1198.5 empowers most employees, including former ones, to inspect and obtain copies of their personnel files, shedding light on the information contained within, particularly pertaining to job performance. Employers must facilitate this inspection and copying within a reasonable timeframe upon request. Discrepancies in the file can be addressed by adding relevant documents to challenge the contents. Similar rights extend to most government employees under different statutes.

“Waiting Time Penalties” for Late Wages

Upon termination, employers must pay all wages owed immediately (California Labor Code Section 201). If an employee resigns with 72 hours’ notice, all wages are due on the last day. In cases of shorter notice, wages should be paid within 72 hours of notifying the employer (California Labor Code Section 202). Willful refusal to comply may entail penalties for each day the wages are delayed, up to 30 days (government employees excluded). Claims for late pay are filed with the “Labor Commissioner” (California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement).

Vacation Policies

“Use it or lose it” vacation policies are illegal. Employees do not forfeit accrued vacation upon termination; unused vacation pay is due just like unpaid wages (California Labor Code Section 227.3). Vacation pay accrual might begin from the first day of employment, even if utilization is restricted to a later tenure. Employers can place a “reasonable” cap on the total accrued vacation.

References and Truthfulness

Former employers can offer negative comments about an employee’s work performance when contacted for a reference, as long as the comments are truthful (California Labor Code Section 1050). However, knowingly providing false information to hinder the employee’s job prospects is unlawful. Opinions about work performance are permissible, but not false factual statements. Some employers opt for a blanket policy of divulging only dates of employment, not required by law but adopted to avoid legal pitfalls.

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12 Weeks of Unpaid Medical Leave and Worker Designations

Within the vast realm of family/medical leave laws, a generous opportunity presents itself to workers, entitling them to a commendable 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This invaluable provision allows individuals to “bond” with a precious newborn baby or to attend to the well-being of their children, parents, spouse, or registered domestic partner, especially when grappling with a “serious health condition” that may even stem from domestic violence.

Throughout this period of leave, the employer remains duty-bound to uphold the employees’ health benefits and must warmly reinstate them to their previous position or a role of equal significance upon their return. To qualify for this profound benefit, aspiring beneficiaries must assiduously meet the following indispensable criteria:

1. The threshold for the employer’s workforce must be met, requiring a substantial 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the worksite, except in the exceptional circumstance of new baby bonding, wherein only 20 employees would suffice.

2. Demonstrating valuable dedication to their job, the employees must have engaged in their current role for a commendable minimum duration of one year.

3. To exhibit an exemplary commitment to the workplace, the employees must have effectively worked for at least 1,250 hours during the preceding 12 months, a testament to their unwavering work ethic and allegiance.

4. The medical leave, forged to address a “serious health condition,” must unequivocally extend beyond a mere three days, mandating continual treatment and care from a competent healthcare provider.

Remarkably, regardless of whether the rigorous employer-size or employment-length criteria are met, workers participating in the State Disability Insurance (SDI) Program embrace an equitable privilege. It bestows upon them a prodigious maximum of six weeks of partial pay each year, thoughtfully catering to those cherishing precious moments to bond with newborn babies, newly adopted foster children, or diligently caring for seriously ill family members, encompassing parents, parent-in-law, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren, spouses, or registered domestic partners.

Evolving into the next realm of employment intricacies, we scrutinize the delicate domain of compensation and deductions. Unearthed amidst the legal framework, lies an unequivocal decree. Employers are unequivocally prohibited from deducting even a single penny from an employee’s cherished paycheck. The sanctity of remuneration remains inviolable, invulnerable to any overzealous desire to offset inadvertent errors, cash shortages, or breakages stemming from unpretentious mistakes or happenstance mishaps.

With a stringent mandate in place, any deduction must be incontrovertibly linked to the employee’s alleged dishonesty, willful misconduct, or gross negligence. Moreover, it is prudent to acknowledge the existence of pertinent exceptions. Select occupations might exhibit peculiar inclinations, permitting certain deductions encompassing uniforms or tools. However, it is imperative to note that these exceptions only surface in the sphere of certain trades or crafts, alongside the exalted realms of barbers, hair stylists, and manicurists.

You can reasonably refuse to do unsafe work

Another crucial dimension emerges; the right to reasonably refuse to perform unsafe work. Within the annals of the California Labor Code (Section 6311), an empowering decree finds its rightful place, extolling the virtues of refusing unsafe work, provided it constitutes a clear violation of a Cal/OSHA standard or Labor Code provision. The perilous nature of the task in question must be so palpable that any reasonable person would perceive a distinct threat to their health or safety in executing such work.

Naturally, caution must be exercised before embarking on this daring course, obligating individuals to promptly inform their supervisor of the precarious conditions, affording the company an opportunity to rectify the situation. Should the company fail to address the underlying hazards, and one consequently decides to spurn the work, a crucial step ensues, involving an explicit declaration, preferably in writing or before witnesses, outlining the precise rationale for the refusal and a commitment to return to work as soon as the conditions are rectified. Finally, the banner of Cal/OSHA beckons, ushering the aggrieved employee to file a formal complaint against the employer, an act of valor poised to seek redress and rectify the plight.

Whether you should receive overtime pay depends on what you do, not on your job title.

The enigmatic realm of overtime pay unfolds, where the eligibility to receive such compensation hinges on the very essence of one’s job, unyielding to the mere veneer of a job title. “Exempt” employees bask in the privilege of being exempt from overtime pay, a notion that might entice employers to bestow this designation upon their workforce. Alas, the realm of legality beckons, revealing that for one to be truly exempt from overtime pay, certain prerequisites must be dutifully fulfilled. Chief among these is the mandate to earn a monthly wage amounting to at least twice the minimum wage, coupled with the necessity of falling within one of the following esteemed categories:

1. The domain of Executive or Administrative employees embodies exemption from overtime pay, reserving this esteemed status solely for those who dedicate at least half of their time to intellectual, managerial, or creative work, epitomizing a domain necessitating independent judgment on matters of paramount significance.

2. The echelon of Professional employees warrants exemption from overtime pay, graciously granting this accolade solely to those possessing state licensure or certification in esteemed professions, ranging from law and accounting to the illustrious field of teaching. The pantheon of “learned” or “artistic” professions, such as editors or musicians, also merits this coveted exemption.

3. As for Executive employees, they too enjoy exemption from overtime pay, provided they allocate at least 50% of their invaluable time to managerial activities, transcending the confines of regular employees. Notably, they often direct the labor of two or more full-time employees, adorning their roles with the power to hire or fire workers and judiciously exercise discretion over matters of the utmost consequence.

A profound revelation emerges; a job title, however illustrious it may seem, cannot solely determine one’s classification as “exempt.” To illustrate this point, consider the case of an individual bearing the prestigious title of “Executive File Administrator,” whose duties primarily revolve around filing and copying, precluding any claim to “exempt” status. Emphatically, it is imperative to discern that if one fails to fall within the aforementioned categories, exemption from overtime pay remains a distant dream, even if a generous flat salary graces their regular work. Alas, overtime pay shall then be inexorably tethered to their hourly pay, derived by the division of their salary by the number of hours in the designated pay period.

You may be eligible for unemployment insurance if you are fired or quit your job for “good cause.”

Venturing further into the labyrinth of employment intricacies, we unveil the realm of unemployment insurance, a domain riddled with complexities. In a curious twist, being fired from a job does not automatically bar one from reaping the benefits of unemployment insurance, save for one specific circumstance – termination for “misconduct,” epitomizing a state wherein an individual exhibits serious or intentional disregard for their employer’s interests.

Fret not, for the scope of “misconduct” is a nuanced affair, where “poor performance” seldom rises to the level of misconduct and should not disqualify one from availing of unemployment benefits. A glimmer of hope arises for those who find themselves compelled to quit their job for a “good cause.” A nuanced standard stands as the arbiter of their fate, requiring considerable endeavors to meet its elusive criteria. Several qualifying circumstances emerge, signaling the advent of “good cause” to quit a job:

1. Domestic reasons, encapsulating the poignant pursuit of preserving a marriage or family situation, warrants the departure from one’s job.
2. The enticing prospect of a better job, cloaked in improved wages, benefits, and potential, beckons the seekers of “good cause.” However, should this dream be dashed by unforeseen circumstances, the “good cause” remains intact.
3. Health reasons, constituting a valid impetus to quit, necessitate prior disclosure to the employer regarding the health problem, paving the way for either a leave of absence or a less demanding job.
4. When working conditions devolve into the realms of intolerability, infused with perilous safety issues, harassment, or significant demotions or pay cuts, the essence of “good cause” emerges.

To traverse the labyrinth of unemployment insurance with unfaltering success, proactive measures are imperative. The disgruntled job-quitter must diligently notify their employer, ensuring all reasonable attempts to address the problem before opting for departure.

You can “pre-choose” your workers’ compensation doctor.

Reverberating through the corridors of worker entitlements, the notion of “pre-choosing” one’s workers’ compensation doctor comes to light, unveiling a sage strategy to navigate unforeseen injury scenarios. Should an employer extend the gracious gesture of a group health plan, individuals have the prerogative to pre-designate their primary care physician, ensconcing the comfort of personalized treatment in the event of an on-the-job injury.

The fulcrum of this decision lies in the hands of the individual’s doctor, whose consent to be designated as the primary caregiver sets the wheels in motion. Once this vital agreement is forged, written notification to the employer crystallizes the pre-selection, firmly asserting the individual’s choice.

You may be an “employee”; even if you are called a “contractor.”

Resiliently navigating the labyrinth of worker designations, we unravel a profound truth; the essence of one’s work unequivocally eclipses the mere veneer of a job title. The distinction between “employee” and “independent contractor” deftly hinges upon the very essence of one’s toil.

When accorded the revered status of an employee, a panoply of advantages befalls them, ushering them into the hallowed halls of unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, health and safety protection from Cal/OSHA, and the prized armor of protection against discrimination. The contrast, emblematic of the independent contractor, entails a far more solitary journey, devoid of the aforementioned safeguards.

Delving deeper into this enigmatic dichotomy, we encounter a multifarious litmus test, eschewing the restraints of a singular criterion. To traverse this intellectual terrain, it is crucial to wield a meticulous scale, carefully weighing diverse factors. As the scale tips in favor of “yes” to the following pivotal queries, the empyrean of independent contractor awaits; conversely, if the verdict echoes “no,” the realm of employee beckons:

  1. Embodying a spirit of autonomy and self-direction, is your work untethered from the ever-watchful gaze of business supervision?
  2. As your labor transcends the bounds of the paying establishment, does it venture into the uncharted territory of the unconventional? Ponder the painter, deftly brush-stroking a school canvas, evoking an essence more akin to an independent contractor than a traditional teacher.
  3. Invoking the essence of an independent business, do you proactively espouse your services to the discerning eyes of the general public, an intrepid trailblazer of entrepreneurial endeavors?

Final thought

In the realm of employment law, the terrain is multifaceted, and the intricacies of rights and protections demand clarity. Remember, the law stands as your ally, and seeking knowledge empowers you in the face of adversity. Reaching out for guidance and support ensures your rights remain upheld, a formidable reminder that the bond between employer and employee rests on pillars of equity and justice.


  • https://www.polarislawgroup.com/blog/2021/may/can-an-employer-fire-me-while-i-m-hospitalized-/
  • https://legalaidatwork.org/factsheet/12-facts-about-employment-law/
  • https://www.goldstarlaw.com/ask-an-employment-law-attorney-is-it-wrongful-termination-to-be-fired-while-on-medical-leave/

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