At-will employees may be fired at any time for any reason unless their employers base their terminations on a prohibited basis. At-will workers who miss too much work may be terminated, but there are a few exceptions. If you were fired for taking protected leave, you may have legal rights. The employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler are available to help workers who have been unlawfully terminated from their jobs for taking protected leave.
The Family And Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that covers employers that have 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Eligible employees under the law have the right to take 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the following reasons:
- Caring for a new child
- Caring for the employee’s own serious health condition
- Caring for a family member who is suffering from a serious health condition
Serious health conditions include conditions, injuries, impairments or illnesses that involve the following:
- Inpatient hospital, residential medical care facility or hospice care;
- Being incapacitated for more than three days while under the treatment of a physician;
- Being incapacitated because of prenatal care or pregnancy;
- Being treated for a serious and chronic health condition;
- Long-term incapacity for a health condition such as a terminal illness; or
- Taking leave for multiple treatments following an injury, accident or condition
The FMLA applies to employees that have at least 50 workers. Covered employers are prohibited from disciplining or firing workers who take protected FMLA leave. Employees must be reinstated to their jobs when their leave is finished with a few exceptions.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
People who take sick leave for medical conditions that qualify as disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This federal law forbids employers from discrimination based on disabilities. Under the law, employers must make reasonable accommodations to their employees so that they can do their jobs. If the employer regularly lets other workers take leave for other reasons, the employer should allow a disabled worker to take leave as well.
Workers’ compensation laws
In most states, employers are mandated to have workers’ compensation insurance policies to protect their workers. These policies reimburse workers for their medical expenses and replace a portion of their wages when they are unable to work because of a work-related illness or injury. Employers are forbidden from firing workers because they file claims for workers’ compensation benefits.
State sick leave laws
Some states have laws that mandate that employers offer paid sick leave to employees. Unfortunately, New Jersey and Pennsylvania do not have paid sick leave laws for private sector employers, however. If your employer does offer paid sick leave, you should be able to use it when you are sick without suffering negative consequences.
If your employer has disciplined or terminated you because you took leave that was protected, you may need legal help. Call the office of Swartz Swidler or fill out our contact form to learn more about your rights.