Fighting For
Employee And Union Rights
Fighting For
Employee And Union Rights

Can I get laid off while I’m on FMLA leave?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2023 | Employment Law, Wrongful Termination

Taking leave from work to care for a loved one or to welcome a new baby should be a time for workers to focus on their families. It should be an opportunity to care for those who need it without the pressures and stress of work or giving up their livelihood.

In most cases, this is what happens. However, there are situations where someone on leave gets unwelcome news, like they have been laid off.

Laid off on leave: Is that legal?

Taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows people to step away from their job without losing it. Under the FMLA, people have the right to go back to work in their same position or an equivalent one.

However, there are scenarios in which a person could still lose their job.

For example, recently, tech companies like Google have been conducting layoffs, and some of those included in these layoffs are people on medical or personal leave.

While it may seem like this would violate FMLA laws, it doesn’t, so long as employers are not retaliatory or discriminatory in their decisions. If layoffs affect a worker the same as if they were not on leave, it can be legal. 

However, if an employer bases their decision on a worker’s leave status or request, even in a minor way, it could be grounds for a wrongful termination claim. 

Other leave violations to be aware of

Besides protecting workers against unlawful termination, FMLA also gives workers the right to continue receiving benefits, like health insurance. If an employer terminates these benefits or provides less than what the law and their own policies dictate, a worker could take legal action to recover these and other losses.

A business might also have its own policies regarding pay during these leaves; failure to pay workers in accordance with these policies could be a serious violation.

Should workers have any concerns or questions about employment decisions while they are or were on leave, talking to an attorney can be crucial. Doing so can help workers protect their rights, income and professional future.