Can someone be fired for becoming ill and being admitted to the hospital?
2 Answers from Attorneys
While it is impossible to give a complete legal analysis without knowing all the facts of you situation, California's anti-discrimination law, known as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), prohibits employers from discriminating, harassing, and/or retaliating against an employee because of a disability. The term "disability" in this context generally means anything that affects a person's ability to perform the usual day-to-day functions, either temporarily OR permanently. This can include, as seems to be the case in your situation, the need to go to a hospital because of an illness, though it can depend on the type and severity of the illness.
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Fired for being absent from work is generally not illegal. Not only are there no laws against poor management, 'unfair treatment', but in general, unless an employee is civil service, in a union, or has a written employment contract, they are an 'at will' employee that can be disciplined or terminated any time for any reason, with or without ‘cause’, explanation or notice.
However, if your CA employer has at least 50 employees, and you are employed for at least 12 months and have at least 1,250 hours worked in the 12 months prior to the leave, then you would be eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA / CFRA medical leave when you are unable to work because of a ‘SERIOUS health condition’. Being out sick with minor illness or injury does not fall within the protections. Now, if they violate those rules, contact me for the legal help you'll need. I'll be happy to do so. I've been doing these cases for over 20 years.