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.
Let's take a hypothetical example of a case to understand when you might have a case against your employer.
In California, if an employee wishes to file a discrimination lawsuit against an employer, he or she must file charges with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) and/or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and obtain what's called a "right to sue" letter. This process is also known as "administrative exhaustion". Charges can be filed online at the DFEH's website and, as of November 1, 2017, on the EEOC's website. Charges can also be mailed using the DFEH's form. The EEOC permits mailed letters containing the following information:
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).
The FMLA (federal) and CFRA (California) are leave laws that allow an employee to take unpaid leave from a job to care for oneself, a family member who is ill, or children who are unable to take care of themselves. PFL does not change either law and is separate from both the FMLA and CFRA. PFL provides up to 6 weeks of partial pay to workers who take time off to bond with a new child or to care for a seriously ill family member.
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.