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Fired on Leave, Now what?

In the state of California, it can be very difficult to prove an unlawful firing. The reason for this is because the state has laws in place that categorizes most employment as at will. However, if you are terminated while on a protected leave, then you may be a victim of unlawful termination.


Generally speaking, a full-time employee in the state of California is eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid family or medical leave. If you have worked for your employer for over a year and have lost your job as a result of taking leave that is protected by either federal or state law, then you may be entitled to monetary damages.


Types of Protected Leave

Life is unpredictable and there are many instances when an employee may need to take leave. In circumstances like these, the state of California has laws in place to protect an employee’s right to take leave so long as it meets the necessary requirements. However, even with these protections, there are situations where employers may still violate these rights. The types of leave that are protected by state and federal laws are, but not limited to:

  • Family Leave: Companies with 20 or more employees are required to provide unpaid family leave for new parents in order to bond with a new child, so long as the employee has been employed for over a 12-month period.
  • Pregnancy Disability Leave: This type of leave is available for employees both part-time and full-time with no length of employment requirements. PDL is typically taken late in the third trimester leading into childbirth and can last up to four months depending on the individual’s capability of performing essential job functions.
  • Sick Leave: During the Coronavirus pandemic, sick leave has become an essential for employees across the United States. Sick leave for employees that are suffering from serious health conditions or employees that need to take care of family members suffering from a serious health conditions have a right to sick leave if they have worked at the company for over 12 months
  • Military: Should an employee decide to enlist in the military, they have a right to do so for up to five years without jeopardizing their career. After returning from service, the employee has a right to request reemployment and the employer is not allowed to terminate without cause until a year after the employee’s return date.
  • Jury Duty: Time off to perform a civic responsibility like jury duty in the state of California `is protected from unlawful termination. Jury duty can be time consuming as you are attending proceedings at the schedule of the court. However, an employer is not able to fire an employee for participating in jury duty for any period of time.

If you are a California worker that has been fired on leave, it is important to know your rights. Employees that take extended leave can sometimes be the victims of retaliation firings or unlawful terminations as a result of discrimination. If you or someone you know has been wrongfully terminated as a result of taking protected leave, contact our team today.