Terminated After Short-Term Disability: Legal Options and What to Do By Kelly Chanfrau, Esq. on January 25, 2024

A woman in a wheel chair in her room

If you went on short-term disability as a result of a non-work-related condition, you probably believed that your job was protected. In some situations, this is certainly the case. Unfortunately in others, your employment may not have been safeguarded.

You don’t have to determine on your own whether or not your rights were violated. I am here to help wronged workers in the Daytona Beach, Palm Coast, and DeLand, FL, area who have been terminated after taking short-term disability.

As a workplace discrimination and employment law attorney, I can find out if you deserve compensation for your termination - and I can help you get it.

Can I Be Terminated After Short-Term Disability? Florida Laws You Need to Know

Florida is one of many states that follows the premise of at-will employment. This means that both employers and employees are legally able to terminate employment at any time without providing any reason.

The termination is valid as long as it is not in violation of existing employment laws. This is where things can get tricky in terms of short-term disability.

Are There Legal Protections for Short-Term Disability?

If an employee is receiving short-term disability benefits, they often believe that their job is protected. Short-term disability insurance does not provide job protections, which means that, technically speaking, a worker may be legally fired after a short-term disability.

However, this all depends on the circumstances of the situation. Both the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provide protections that may make it illegal for a worker to be terminated after short-term disability.

 

A woman in a wheelchair at the office with her co-workers

How the FMLA Protects You

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that permits eligible workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. This leave can be used to address personal medical issues or those of immediate family members.

In addition to allowing workers time off, FMLA guarantees that a worker's job is protected while they are on leave.

To be eligible to take family medical leave, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Worked for your employer for at least 12 months
  • Worked for at least 1,250 hours during the past year
  • Worked at a location where their company employs at least 50 employees within 75 miles

Job Protections Upon Your Return to Work

Upon return from FMLA leave, a worker’s employer must return them to their previous position or one that is comparable in rank or pay.

If a worker is on approved FMLA leave to address short-term disability and they are terminated upon their return, it can be seen as workplace discrimination or employer retaliation. Both of these actions are illegal.
 


Want to Learn More About the FMLA?

Parents with newborn baby

 


The ADA Also Offers Protections

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is another law that may come to your aid in your short-term disability termination claim.

The ADA makes it illegal for an employer to fire a worker because of a disability, which is defined as any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. These protections apply to individuals with short- or long-term disability.

Reasonable Accommodations for Workers

Even if a worker is unable to perform job duties as a result of their disability, the ADA ensures their right to request reasonable accommodations from their employer. Unless it would place an undue hardship on the business, employers are required to provide modifications that would allow the employee to do their job. This may include:

  • Providing assistive equipment
  • Modifying your schedule
  • Ensuring facilities are accessible

If an employer chooses to terminate a worker after short-term disability, rather than provide reasonable accommodations, that is a violation of employment rights.

These Laws Safeguard You From Any Retaliation

It is often the case that employees are pressured into not taking short-term disability leave because they are afraid that their employer will retaliate. Possible retaliation includes termination, the limiting of work hours, demotions, and transfer to an undesirable position.

Every single one of these actions is illegal if they are taken to punish an employee for asserting their rights to short-term disability leave.

Speak with an Employment Law Attorney as Soon as Possible

Act ASAP before the deadline to file a claim passes.

Generally speaking, any complaint or legal action regarding an FMLA violation must be undertaken within two years from when the alleged action occurred.

This means it’s best not to wait to speak with a knowledgeable employment attorney. Talking to me now can help you stay within your deadline and get compensated as soon as possible.

 

Woman at work in silhouette taking a moment to gather her thoughts

Keep in Mind: Not All Disabilities Are Physical

Often, disabilities are portrayed as strictly physical conditions, like an inability to properly walk or lift things.

The truth is, the ADA covers any disability that significantly hampers both bodily function and life activities. Therefore, a condition like clinical depression could be covered by the ADA, provided that the depression is severe enough to impede basic functions like concentration and sleep.

If you are suffering from depression or another mood disorder, your employer may be required to make accommodations that are tailored to your issues with focus, memory, and fatigue. If they fail to do so or fire you instead of taking these steps, you may be able to sue for disability discrimination and violating your rights.

What to Do if Your Employment Rights Have Been Violated 

Workers who believe that a termination after short-term disability was in violation of their employment rights should get in touch with a lawyer to discuss their situation.

Employment law attorneys understand the protections provided to workers and can determine if a wrongful termination suit needs to be filed. If so, workers can pursue financial compensation for related damages, which may include:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost benefits
  • Emotional distress

Need to Discuss Your Termination?

Talk to a Board-Certified Attorney for Free

I became board-certified in labor and employment law in 2012 and have maintained this status for more than a decade since. To earn this great honor, I had to prove that I possessed the highest levels of knowledge and skill in employment cases.

If you have been discriminated against for your short-term disability, you can count on the team at Chanfrau & Chanfrau to be on your side. Contact our Florida law firm today.

 


 

Kelly Chanfrau

About Kelly Chanfrau, Esq.
Kelly Chanfrau started her legal career in 2001 at a national defense firm. She switched to representing plaintiffs in 2010 and became a board-certified expert in labor and employment law. Ms. Chanfrau is affiliated with the Florida Bar, the National Employment Lawyers Association, and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

Read Ms. Chanfrau's Full Bio | All Posts by Ms. Chanfrau

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