can a job fire you for being sick

No matter where you live, being sick is an inescapable part of life; it can happen to anyone anytime.

But can a job fire you for being sick in California? And what happens if you get sick and your employer decides to terminate your employment because of it? The answer isn’t cut and dried and typically depends on the circumstances and type of illness.

Keep reading to explore sick time legal protections in California and learn more about what California employees can do when it comes to illness-related terminations. If you have any questions, contact us online or call us today.

What Is Sick Leave in California?

California employees may take sick leave to care for themselves when ill or seek diagnostic care, treatment, or preventative care. California employees may also take sick leave to care for family members such as a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandchild, grandparent, or registered domestic partner.

What Laws Protect My Sick Leave Rights?

Can a job fire you for being sick? While employers have a lot of hiring and firing discretion, an employer cannot base those decisions on an employee’s sick or disabled status, even when an employee is at will.

So, while California employers can fire at-will workers at any time for any legal reason, they cannot fire an employee solely because of an employee’s medical condition. Here is an overview of several laws that offer varying protections against being fired for an illness.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

The FMLA is a federal law providing certain private employees with at least 50 employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for specified family or medical reasons. The CFRA is like the FMLA but provides coverage for employers with five or more employees.

Under FMLA and CFRA, eligible employees can take protected leave for their serious health condition or to care for a family member with a serious health condition without risking termination. Employers must reinstate the employee to the same or an equivalent position when they return from leave.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations.

Under the ADA, employers may not discriminate against employees with mental or physical impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. The ADA requirements also occasionally apply to medical issues that aren’t considered disabilities.

If you were fired in violation of the ADA, it is crucial to consult with an employment lawyer in California to discuss your situation and explore potential legal remedies. At Workplace Rights Law Group, we can review your claim and fight for the rights the law entitles you to.

How Many Times Can You Call in Sick Before You Get Fired?

Can you get fired for being sick and taking sick leave for days at a time? With few exceptions, under the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (HWHFA), an employee who, on or after July 1, 2015, works for the same employer for at least 30 or more days during a year is may be entitled to sick leave.

Employees, including part-time and temporary employees, are entitled to at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. Accrual begins on the first day of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later. Under the law, it is against the law for an employer to fire an employee for using accrued and entitled sick leave.

Is it Illegal to Discriminate Based on An Employee’s Medical Condition in California?

California’s Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants because of a medical condition, including illnesses. This means an employer cannot fire employees solely because they are sick. Terminating an employee for illness could be considered unlawful discrimination under the FEHA.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Employers must explore possible accommodations and interact with the employee before considering termination.

Still, if an employee’s illness consistently prevents them from performing the essential functions of their position, even with reasonable accommodations, the employer might have grounds for termination. Reasonable accommodations may include modified work hours, telecommuting, or job duty adjustments that accommodate the employee’s medical condition.

Workplace Rights Law Group Can Fight for Your Sick Leave Rights

If you need an employment lawyer, California advocates at Workplace Rights Law Group can help you understand your legal rights and potential remedies.

Our approach sets us apart; we intentionally handle a smaller caseload to ensure you receive personalized and meticulous attention while striving to deliver the same sophisticated legal services typically associated with larger firms.

Our commitment to excellence is unwavering. We dedicate ourselves to crafting innovative legal strategies tailored to your unique circumstances. When your employer infringes on your sick leave rights, we’re there to provide the support and advocacy you need, prioritizing quality over quantity.

In fact, our experienced team has a total of over 75 collective years in employment law but just one shared objective—to level the playing field and create equal opportunities for workers just like you. Contact us online or call us today for a free case review.

Get Legal Help Today.

If you think that you have been wrongfully terminated we will listen for free. Speak with one of our experienced employment attorneys by telling us about your case.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
4 votes, average: 2.50 out of 5