The short answer is, "no." An employee cannot terminate a disabled or injured employee just because their FMLA leave expires. At that point, the question becomes whether continuation of the leave beyond 12 weeks is a reasonable accommodation for a disability. In other words, if it doesn't pose an undue hardship on the employer, then the employee must be allowed sufficient time to recover and return to work, with or without further accommodations.
Say you had a medical issue or injury, work-related or not. At some point, you may have reached out to your employer about working with some restrictions. Your supervisor might believe that certain restrictions will prevent you from performing the job as needed, emails HR and indicates an inability to accommodate the restrictions. It is then communicated to you that the you cannot work until you are fully recoverd, or 100% healed. This position by the employer would be a failure to engage in the interactive process to determine reasonable accommodations for your disability.
Anyone working in a corporate environment knows that big business is all about metrics designed to make shareholders more money. Nothing truly evil with that, it's capitalism and hence our economic system.
Depending on the size of an employer's business, there should be a procedure to follow when an employee gets hurt at work. Often, employees and employers alike are confused about the steps to take when an employee is injured.
Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because of a "physical disability." Gov. Code, § 12940(a). In addition to making it illegal to discriminate based on disability, the FEHA makes it unlawful "to fail to make reasonable accommodation for the known physical . . . disability of an . . . employee." Gov. Code, § 12940(m)(1). Finally, the FEHA prohibits an employer from harassing an employee "because of . . . physical disability." Gov. Code § 12940(j)(1).
Often times a temporarily disabled employee can take a medical leave and return to work without any restrictions. If the employee and employer meet certain criteria, the employee will be protected from retaliation or discrimination and legally entitled to return to his or her job. Other times, however, an individual's disability requires more continued attention. Under these circumstances an employee may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation.
California provides broad protection to employees who are disabled. Sometimes an individual's disability necessitates a temporary leave of absence. If the employee and employer meet certain criteria, the employer is not permitted to fire the employee while he or she is on a disability leave.
Numerous federal and state statutes protect equal opportunity in the workplace. The analysis applicable under most of these laws derives from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) generally follows this federal law, but features some slight variations that are often advantageous to plaintiffs.
Workplace discrimination can occur in numerous forms. Federal and state laws not only prohibit an employer from taking adverse action against an employee due to that employee's protected characteristics (such as race, religion, national origin, or disability status), they also forbid employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of the protected characteristics of those with whom they closely associate.
It is illegal under both California and federal law for an employer to terminate or take other adverse employment action against an employee because that employee is disabled. In order to prevail on a wrongful termination claim for disability discrimination, however, a disabled employee who has been fired needs to prove not only that he has a disability, but also that he can still perform the essential functions of his job with or without reasonable accommodation.