Have you ever wondered what would happen if you became very ill suddenly and couldn’t go to work? What if your child or spouse became ill or he or she was severely injured in an accident; would you have to take off work for the duration of their recovery? Suppose your doctor told you that you were in need of surgery as soon as possible? Perhaps one of your parents was in a recent accident, would your boss give you time off to care for them? What if your husband or wife was injured while on active duty in the armed forces, could you get time off to help him or her? What if you were temporarily disabled but you could come back to work, does your boss need to accommodate you?
When an employee needs to take time off from work for certain reasons, it leaves the employee vulnerable to possible violations of their employee rights by their employer. There are laws in California that regulate employee leaves and the way in which employers must respond to an employee requesting and/or taking a leave. Not all employers follow these laws nor do they implement them into their policies. This is where issues arise for the employee which may lead to the need for an Employment Lawyer. An Employment Lawyer is a type of attorney who has experience in employment law on the employee side. This means the Employment Lawyer represents employees against their employers in particular leave of absence cases.
- Termination? Wrongful? Wrongful termination?
An employee may run into issues at work once they request for a leave, take a leave, or return from a leave. When and if this occurs, certain employee rights may be violated and legal action may need to be taken.
The word “terminated” in employment law is just a fancy word for being canned, fired, or getting sacked. It is a word usually used to characterize the way in which an employee was taken out of their employment as opposed to quitting, being let go, or a position being eliminated altogether. Termination is usually the result of an employee not conducting themselves in a professional manner such as being late or not producing satisfactory work product.
Where does the “wrongful” come into play? Every state in America has its own laws regarding employment. In California, all employees are considered “at-will” employees. This means that all employees can be fired from their position for any reason or even for no reason at all except if it is for an illegal reason. Employers can decide at their own will to get rid of an employee when it suits them as long as they do not decide to do so because of the particular employee’s race, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, or if an employee makes a complaint concerning illegal/unlawful activity being exercised at the workplace. If an employer decides to terminate an employee based on one of those mentioned reasons, that may be considered a wrongful reason.
If an employee is terminated but the employee believes it is because they requested a leave, took a leave, or returned from a leave, he or she may be a victim of wrongful termination.
If an employee is terminated but it is based on what the law considers a wrongful reason, this may be identified as “wrongful termination”. It is wrongful because it is based on an illegal reason. If an employee believes that he or she was wrongfully terminated because they were fired for an illegal reason, then he or she should contact an Employment Lawyer in their area.
- Failure to comply with accommodation request
Sometimes an employee may be cleared to work after taking a medical leave but only under certain conditions and/or restrictions. If an employee returns to work after taking an approved leave, they may ask for certain accommodations from their employer in which their employer needs to comply with as long as the request(s) are/is reasonable. For example, an employee may request to work during certain hours or perhaps shorter shifts. If an employer fails to meet an employee’s reasonable request(s), the employee may have a case against their employer for failing to comply with their disability needs.
- Time is relevant
How much time can an employee take off for a leave of absence? Depending on the circumstances, technically an employee is permitted to take up to 12 weeks for a recognized leave of absence. There are other factors involved in deciphering how much time an employee is entitled to, but it is a determination that usually an Employment Lawyer would be able to make.
- Communication is key
If an employee needs to take a leave, keeping open communication with their employer is key. An employee should keep their employer informed of when he or she will need to take a leave, how long he or she expects to be out of work, and should their circumstances change, they should inform their employer as soon as possible. Normally during this time, an employee is on unpaid leave unless their employment contract says otherwise. Where an employee would need more time in addition to the 12 weeks, he or she may contact their employer and inform them of this need in the form of an accommodation request. This request would likely need to include a doctor’s recommendation of the additional time off. Keep in mind however that after the original 12 weeks is up, there are certain laws that do not obligate the employer to restore the employee’s same position back to him or her upon their return.
In conclusion, disability leave and wrongful termination are complex areas of the law, which is why it would be useful to contact an Employment Lawyer. An Employment Lawyer who offers a free consultation with no up-front costs is the best kind of legal professional to contact. Each employment case is unique in its circumstances and facts, therefore an Employment Lawyer would be useful in the sense that they could tell a particular employee whether or not they have a case worth pursuing.