As an employee, if you qualify for Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) there may come a time when you want to take advantage of these benefits. For example, this is common when caring for a sick spouse or after having a child.

While it’s your right to request FMLA leave, many people opt against doing so because they’re afraid of losing their jobs.

An employer has the legal right to terminate your employment, even if you’re on FMLA leave, if they have a legitimate and non-discriminatory reason for doing so. Some examples include:

  • If you would have lost your job, regardless of your FMLA status, as a result of poor performance
  • Any form of prohibited conduct while you’re on FMLA leave, such as sharing company information with competitors
  • If the company is reducing its workforce through layoffs and being selected for termination is unrelated to FMLA leave

Even with these points in mind, it’s still important to remember that you have protection when requesting and taking FMLA leave.

For example, it’s against the law for your employer to terminate your employment because you requested FMLA leave. They must comply with the law, even if it’s an inconvenience for an extended period of time.

If you were terminated shortly after requesting FMLA leave, during your leave or upon your return, collect as much information as you can. This will help you better understand what went wrong, with the idea of taking legal action should you find that your employer violated the law. You didn’t do anything wrong, so don’t hesitate to protect your legal rights.