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Can You Be Fired for Being Sick?

While California is an at-will state, meaning you can be let go for any reason, the issue of being fired while sick isn’t always cut and dry. If your employer has a sick leave policy and you are fired for using your sick leave, you should consult with an attorney to see if that termination violated California law.

Paid Sick Leave in California: What’s the Law?

In California, most employees are entitled to paid sick leave. In accordance with the Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act of 2014, workers are entitled to paid sick leave if they work 30 or more days within a year. Employees accrue time off at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours you work. However, you must have been employed for more than 90 days to use your paid sick leave.

Certain cities, such as Los Angeles, have their own sick leave policies. In L.A., sick leave is provided if you work at least two hours in a particular week

Other laws may apply to protect your job if you’ve run out of paid leave and still need to take sick time. 

People who are called “independent contractors” are frequently left out of these policies. However, employers often classify people improperly as independent contractors, in violation of California law. If you think you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, you should consult an attorney to see what rights you have.

If you feel that you’ve been discriminated against or retaliated against for using or requesting sick leave, you can consult with an employment attorney to advise you. 

What Are Your Options? 

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical situations for either the employee or a member of the employee’s immediate family. The FMLA will protect your job if you’re out for an extended period. If you were retaliated against for requesting or using family medical leave, you should talk to an employment law specialist. 

Emergency Situations

With the recent coronavirus outbreak, companies like Walmart are enacting emergency leave policies. In the Walmart example, if employees are required to be quarantined, they’ll receive up to 2 weeks’ pay. Policies like this ensure that you will not be fired for taking sick leave, allowing you to fully recover and stop the spread of coronavirus. Uber is enacting a similar policy for drivers who have been quarantined

Employee Coronavirus Resources:

What if Your Job Makes You Sick?

If you become sick or injured due to your employment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. This can be difficult to prove in some cases, but you cannot be fired for a workplace injury.

What to do if You’ve Been Fired for Taking Sick Leave

If you’ve been fired for taking sick leave, you should contact an employment lawyer to see if your termination was legal.



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