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Were you fired while you were on medical leave?

Losing a job can be one of the worst things to happen to anyone in Ontario who is fighting to recover from an illness that caused a disability. If this happened to you, it could bring about financial hardship for you and your family. The lack of income along with mounting medical bills can cause undue anxiety that might even exacerbate your poor health.

This is where LTD comes into play. If you have suffered an injury or contracted a disease that prevents you from returning to work, you might be entitled to long-term disability benefits.

An employer's duty to accommodate

Except under limited circumstances, your employer may not terminate your employment while you are on medical leave. While sadly some employers do fire workers purely because they are unhappy that the employees take medical leave, provincial and federal human rights laws protect workers from such discrimination. No one's disability may be the grounds for dismissal.

Exceptions

Employment laws require an employer to provide accommodation if you become disabled due to ill health or an injury. Your boss could either modify your duties in a manner that would allow you to continue working or he or she could grant you medical leave. However, if an employer can prove any of the following circumstances, it might justify dismissal:

  • Cost: If your employer must spend unreasonable amounts of money to bring about modifications to accommodate you, the court might agree that there was no other option than to dismiss you.
  • Undue hardship: If your employer claims that accommodating you during your illness will cause unreasonable hardship for the company, he or she will have to meet a high threshold to motivate such claims.
  • Health risk: If you have a condition that is highly contagious, your employer might use that to justify dismissal. However, granting you medical leave would prevent exposure of other employees to your illness.
  • Disruption: Some employers claim accommodating an employee's ill health can hamper workflow, but proving that could be tough.
  • Unrelated firing: Your boss might even attempt to convince the court that your termination had nothing to do with your debilitating injury or illness.

Your rights during this trying time

If your employer fires you while you are on medical leave, you have the right to launch a complaint. The employer will then have the burden to prove the need to terminate your employment. Fighting for your rights at a time when you are also battling an illness might be overwhelming, but help is available. The support and guidance from an Ontario lawyer who has experience in dealing with both wrongful terminations and long-term disability insurance may prove to be an invaluable asset to your cause.

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