medical leave employee returning to work injured employee injured worker

Have you been injured, taken medical leave or had medical restrictions upon returning to work? Injured at work and filed a Worker’s Compensation claim? Did you return to work but your boss refused to comply with your doctor’s note or make reasonable accommodations for you to go back to doing your job? Terminated while on medical leave or because your employer didn’t want to deal with your injury, medical issue, or because of increased doctor’s appointments?

This is called disability discrimination and it is unlawful in the state of California. Sadly, many employers ignore or refuse to reasonably accommodate employees’ medical restrictions, even when it would not cause them undue burden to do so. 

Sustaining an injury at work or having to take time off because of medical issues is incredibly stressful. When you add in an employer’s refusal to accommodate the injury or medical issue, this puts even more strain on not just your physical health, but your mental, emotional, and financial health as well.

Many employers pay lip service to complying with an employee’s doctor’s note or an employee’s reasonable requests for accommodations due to their medical issue or injury, but don’t actually do anything about it and oftentimes, give the employee a hard time because of their injury or illness. Unfortunately, we at Whitehead Employment Law see it happen all the time.

Questions to Ask When Returning to Work from Medical Leave

If you speak with our firm regarding your medical leave, here are some questions we’ll ask:

  • What were your job duties?
  • Did your doctor place any restrictions on you?
  • Was your employer able to accommodate those restrictions?
  • Did you ever request an accommodation?
  • If so, what did your employer say?
  • If so, what did your employer say? If your employer refused to accommodate your restrictions, do you believe your employer could reasonably have, but chose not to?

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations

According to California Law, If you’ve returned to work from a Worker’s Compensation claim or have a doctor’s note due to a medical issue, your employer is required to provide you with “reasonable accommodations.” Reasonable accommodations look different depending on the size of the employer and the type of injury relative to the required job duties. For example, for an employee with carpal tunnel, providing an ergonomic keyboard in an office setting would be a reasonable accommodation. Allowing an employee to take time off for additional medical appointments as long as the are still able to complete the essential functions of their job, would be another reasonable accommodation.

Sometimes employers have a light duty position, sometimes there are other positions readily available. Other times, the position just needs to be modified a bit; for example, having someone else do the lifting if you had a back injury. Sometimes the accommodation might just be time off to heal or allow you to undergo a surgery. 

Our attorneys frequently run into situations in which the employer said they could not accommodate an employee’s medical restrictions and proceeded to either terminate the employee or force them on an unpaid leave, when they, in fact, could have provided accommodations.

If you’ve been injured or had a physical or mental health issue and are under a doctor’s care, your employer is required to make a good faith investigation into what types of reasonable accommodations they can make that will allow you to heal and complete your job effectively.

Act Immediately If Your Employer Refused You Accommodations

Keep in mind, the statute of limitations (timeframe in which you may legally file a claim) for most injury/medical leave cases in CA is short, so it’s important to act immediately if you think your employer has treated you unlawfully.

Furthermore, more often than not, employers violating California’s law pertaining to accommodating employees who were injured or returning to work from medical-related leave, are also in violation of other California laws, such as California’s wrongful termination laws, rest and meal break lawsovertime and wage and hour lawspersonal cell phone/computer/travel reimbursement laws and laws prohibiting retaliation. If you have any questions about California’s employment laws or if you believe your employer may be violating these laws, don’t hesitate to speak with an attorney.

Wrongfully Terminated or Other Issues When Returning to Work from Medical Leave? Our Experienced Attorneys Can Help


If you were fired, harassed, demoted, terminated, or let go while on medical leave, it’s important to discuss the situation with an experienced attorney who can give you a comprehensive look at your options. Contact us today at (949) 936-4001 or https://whiteheademploymentlaw.com/contact to talk about your medical leave situation.

Whitehead Employment Law is a premier firm with a wealth of legal talent dedicated to labor and employment law. We have settled and tried cases winning millions of dollars in awards for clients whose employers have violated California labor laws.  Many of these types of situations are ideal for class action treatment. We take most of our cases on a contingency basis, which means we don’t get paid unless we win the case for you.

Contact us at Whitehead Employment Law today at 949-936-4001. Consultations are free and confidential.