The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federally mandated set of laws providing employees of most companies with 12 weeks annually of unpaid leave if they need to deal with serious medical or personal problems. This act only applies to businesses employing at least 50 people. However, entitled employees must have worked one year or more for their employer and have accumulated 1250 hours or more of work during the previous year. Although taking a leave of absence from work under this law is an unpaid absence, employees may be able to apply for and receive long-term disability or short-term disability benefits while on leave.
Can an Employer Fire an Employee Who is on Leave with a Disability?
No. Employers cannot terminate an employee who is on FMLA leave. However, if that employee remains on leave beyond the 12 weeks allotted by the Family and Medical Act Leave, the employer may legally fire the employee. Also, employees returning to work from FMLA leave must be allowed to resume their former work tasks or given a position similar to the one they previously held. Employees receiving short-term disability or long-term disability benefits who are fired can continue receiving their benefits according to their policy terms.
How Does the ADA Protect People with Disabilities from Losing Their Job?
Further supporting rules set by the FLMA is the Americans with Disabilities Act, another federally mandated law that makes it illegal for employers to fire employees with disabilities. The ADA protects employes meeting their definition of a disability: “a mental or physical impairment substantially limiting major life activities”. Companies employing at least 15 workers are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Some employers think they have a legal right to fire employees who have been diagnosed with a disabling condition. However, they do not have that legal right and may be taken to court over such an unlawful termination of an employee. Contact our disability law firm today if you know of an employer who may have violated FMLA or ADA regulations.