Advertisement

Can you fire a staffer returning from leave?

Published on: 

Shortly after I bought a practice from a retiring physician, one of his staffers asked for a leave of absence for medical reasons. Now, after five months, she says she's ready to come back. We're managing fine without her. Can I terminate her?

Q: Shortly after I bought a practice from a retiring physician, one of his staffers asked for a leave of absence for medical reasons. Now, after five months, she says she's ready to come back. We're managing fine without her. Can I terminate her?

A: Maybe. Ask your attorney first. If you or your predecessor did anything to give her a reasonable expectation of reinstatement, you could be bound to take her back under state contract law.

Advertisement

Otherwise, the fact that you no longer need her is a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason to let her go. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)-which gives eligible employees the right to return to the same or an equivalent position after 12 weeks of leave-probably doesn't apply in your case. It covers businesses that have 50 or more employees. There are state laws similar to FMLA, so ask your attorney if they apply.

Advertisement
Advertisement