Can You Be Fired While on FMLA?
Florida and Georgia are “at-will” employment states. The general rule is your employer can hire and fire you at any time for any reason, not just poor performance. However, you may be protected from termination if you’re on unpaid leave of absence under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Can you be fired while on FMLA? Read on to find out. Then call us to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe your employer violated FMLA and wrongfully terminated you.
Your Rights Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA requires eligible employers to allow you up to 12 weeks of unpaid annual leave for:
- Undergoing treatment for a covered health condition
- Caring for a newborn
- Caring for a sick family member
If you return to work within the 12-week period, your employer must allow you to resume your old job or give you a position with the same pay, duties, benefits, and location. And, in certain circumstances, you may be able to extend the 12-week period if it appears you will be able to return to work soon.
Do You Qualify for FMLA Leave?
The FMLA doesn’t apply to all employers and employees in Georgia and Florida. You only qualify for the FMLA leave if:
- Your employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles of your workplace.
- You’ve been with the company for at least a year before taking FMLA leave.
- You’ve worked at least 1,250 hours with your employer in the past 12 months.
- Your reason for taking unpaid leave is covered by the FMLA.
- You’ve informed your employer that you’re taking FMLA leave.
- You don’t take more than the 12 allotted weeks.
Can You Be Fired While on FMLA?
You can’t be fired while on protected FMLA leave. However, if you don’t meet any of the conditions above or are unable to return to work after the 12-week period, your employer can lawfully terminate you.
What If You Don’t Qualify for FMLA Leave?
Depending on your job, protected leave under the FMLA may not be available to you. In such cases, you may still be eligible for medical leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ADA protects you from termination while on short-term disability leave. The ADA defines “disability” as any mental or physical impairment that significantly limits your life activities. Unlike the FMLA, the ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
Under the ADA, your employer must also make reasonable accommodations for your disability, such as modifying your duties or schedule or ensuring your workplace is wheelchair accessible.
What to Do If Your Employer Terminates You While on FMLA
You may have legal recourse if your employer fired you while you were on medical leave, but you must act fast. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, consult with a labor law attorney and contact the federal or state Department of Labor as soon as possible.
Contact an Experienced Labor Law Attorney in Florida or Georgia
If your employer fired you while you were on medical leave, The Leach Firm, P.A., can help. Our labor law team can answer questions such as “Can you be fired while on FMLA?” and explain your legal options. Call us today at 844-722-7567 to request your free case evaluation.