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Photo of Michelle Cohen Levy

Can my employer eliminate my job while I’m on FMLA leave?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2021 | Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) |

When you go on leave from your job and are covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you may think that you are completely protected against losing your job. Unfortunately, that isn’t the entire truth. While you may be able to return to your job if it still remains at the company, your employer actually has no legal requirement to keep the position if there is a legitimate reason to eliminate it.

According to findings by the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California, the FMLA doesn’t stop an employee from being terminated if their job ends up being removed from the workplace while they’re away. For example, if a worker has a position as a secretary and the employer determines that the secretary is no longer needed because they are meeting clients on-location, then the job may be legitimately eliminated.

Can employers eliminate positions at any time to get around the FMLA?

Positions are eliminated from workplaces often, and that may influence if a person can come back after they take time off under the FMLA. However, employers aren’t allowed to eliminate the position out of retaliation or just to make it so that the employee cannot return.

There does have to be a legitimate reason for the position to be removed, such as if the company has been losing revenue or if the company restructures its positions to be more efficient.

How can you prove that your employer’s actions were discriminatory?

You can take steps to prove that a position was eliminated due to retaliation or discrimination. One thing that may help your case is if you show that another person is doing the same job as you under a new title. In essence, the job is the same, and you may be able to prove that the renaming was to skirt the FMLA regulations.

Similarly, if your received threats or were told you were going to lose your position because of time you took off under the FMLA, then you may be able to make a case against your employer.