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The Turley Law Firm P.C.

Can a California employer fire a worker who is out on a leave of absence?

Not to give you a lawyer like answer, but, it depends.  

The short answer is “Yes,” if your employer has less than fifty (50) employees. That is, your employer can fire you if you take a leave of absence. Assuming, that is the reason why you were fired.
If this is you, I suggest you keep reading to see what you other legal options are to get money compensation from your employer.
If your employer has more than 50 employees then you may be protected if you take a leave of absence and you are an eligible employee under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  I explain these in more depth in this article.
So, if you want to find out how you may be entitled to A LOT of money for unpaid wages and/or penalties under California Labor CodeCalifornia Wage Orders and/or California's PAGA laws; I suggest that you keep reading. 

In this article, I answer these questions and/or address the following issues:

What if I was fired from work in California - what are my other legal options for getting money compensation from my employer?

California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

CFRA Leave Requirements

Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)

Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI) or “Paid Family Leave”

Understanding the Protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Are you owed a lot of money in unpaid wages? Find out with a no obligation, free, confidential unpaid wages audit

What if I was fired from work in California - what are my other legal options for getting money compensation from my employer?

Put another way, all the time I have folks contact our office with one employment law problem and we do a legal analysis and figure out that they have significant (read: they may be entitled to a lot of money compensation) other employment law claims.
The last thing you want to do is for you to leave your hard earned money on the table, so to speak, when you’ve been fired from your job in California.
So, I suggest that if this is you - that is, you have been fired from your job in California, you check out this article on “What are my legal rights to compensation if I have been fired from my job in California.”

California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

California Family Rights Act (CFRA) covers you if your employer does business in California and employs 50 or more part-time or full-time employees.

CFRA Leave Requirements 

The following are the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) requirements:
• In order to be eligible for CFRA leave, you must be an employee with more than 12 months of service with your employer and you must have worked at least 1,250 hours for your employer in the 12-month period before the leave begins.
If you are an eligible employee:
• You may take an unpaid leave to bond with an adopted or foster child or to bond with a newborn.
•  You may take unpaid leave to care for a parent, spouse, or child with a serious health condition.
•  You may take unpaid leave for your own serious health condition.
• If you are a full-time employee, you may take leave of up to 12 work weeks in a 12-month period.
• If you are a part-time employee, you may take leave on a proportional basis.
• The leave does not need to be taken in one continuous period of time.
Other requirements:
• Your employer may require a 30-day advance notice of the need for a CFRA qualifying leave. When this is not possible due to the unexpected nature of the leave, notice should be given as soon as practicable.
• Your notice can be written or verbal and should include the timing and the anticipated duration of the leave. However, I suggest that you try and document your request in writing, so you can document that the request was made and when it was made.
As a practical matter, you can call or tell your supervisor in person and send them a confirming email. You can send a copy to yourself to have “proof.”
• Your employer must respond to your leave request within 10 calendar days.
If a response is not received in 10 days, you might think about sending them a friendly email as a follow up.
As with most things in life, as my Mom said, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. As a practical matter, you really don’t want a CFRA lawsuit, you want to be able to take your legally mandated leave and come back to work. And if you do end up having to file a CFRA lawsuit, you want to be reasonable because this will all be evidence in your case.
• Your employer may require written communication from the health-care provider of the child, parent, spouse, or employee with a serious health condition stating the reasons for the leave and the probable duration of the condition.

Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)

If you are eligible for leave under the CFRA, you may also be entitled for leave under Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). Employers of five or more persons have additional obligations under the PDL.

Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI) or “Paid Family Leave”

Employees on CFRA leave of absence may also be eligible for six weeks of paid leave under FTDI, a program administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD).
PFL does not provide job protection, only monetary benefits; however, your job may be protected through other federal or state laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

Happy clients with their settlement checks from a California unpaid wages case.
It feels really good when you get your check for unpaid wages owed to you!


Understanding the Protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Employees may believe that their jobs are protected under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While this law provides employees with twelve weeks of unpaid leave each year to cope with unforeseen illness or family problems, it does not apply to all workplaces. Employees can only enjoy the protections of the FMLA if they:

  • Work at a company that has 50 or more employees
  • Have worked for the company for at least one year
  • Have completed at least 1,250 hours of work for the employer in the required year of employment
  • Do not exceed twelve weeks of absences

The FMLA states that employees cannot be fired for taking their guaranteed weeks of medical leave, and they cannot be retaliated against for doing so. When employees return from FMLA leave, their employers are required to employ them in their former positions or in a job that is substantially similar. If the employee is on leave due to a medical disability, an employer cannot terminate the employee due to the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Not only is it illegal to discriminate against an employee with a disability, an employer must attempt to make reasonable accommodations that will allow the employee to do his or her job.

Employers can terminate an employee for reasons unrelated to leave and can do so whether the employee is on leave or not. For example, if an employee goes over the allotted twelve weeks, even by one day, the employer could terminate him or her for excessive absences. The important thing to remember is that while employers may terminate an employee while on protected leave, the employer must provide a legitimate reason for termination that is unrelated to the leave. 


Bill Turley is California's leading employment law lawyer - that is why he is frequently asked to testify before the California State Senate and California State Assembly on California employment law

Bill Turley testifying at the California Senate

Are you owed a lot of money in unpaid wages? 

Find out with a no obligation, free, confidential unpaid wages audit

Basically, an unpaid wages audit will help you determine whether you have been paid all of the wages that you are entitled to under California law.  Whether it is an ex-employer that you have worked for in the last four years or a current employer, I suggest that you have an unpaid wages audit. 

Based upon what I see every day by talking to workers in California that contact our office, many folks have no idea how their employer is not paying them the wages they are owed under California law.

Your first step is contacting our office. First we will talk with you in order to get an initial determination of whether you are owed unpaid wages. This is a no obligation, and free.

If we go forward with the unpaid wages audit, you will never have to pay us. Ever.

It is up to you how you want to proceed after we explain to you the results. If we agree to accept your case, all of our fees will be approved by the court and paid directly by the company.


Call us at 619-304-1000  - If you call after regular business hours, when you leave a message, be sure to repeat your name and telephone number twice, so we get it correctly. And be sure to indicate whether it's okay if we respond by text.

Text us at 858-281-8008 - Be sure and put "new wage case" in your text. 

Or leave us a message on this web page


Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation. In other words, you outcome may vary. Just because we have had great results in so many employment law cases, doesn't guarantee any particular result with your case. Every case is different. 

William Turley
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“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”