1. Rights When Returning to your Existing Job
If you are returning to work after a period of time off, it is helpful to understand the laws and resources that can benefit you.
Are you returning from Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave?
If you took leave under the FMLA, then the law requires that you be reinstated to the same or an “equivalent” position as the one you had before you took the time off. An “equivalent” position is one with equivalent pay, benefits, responsibilities, and other conditions of employment. There are some exceptions when an employer will not be required to reinstate an employee:
- If you have previously notified the employer that you didn’t plan to return to work
- If your position was eliminated while you were on leave (e.g., a reduction in force)
- If you would have been terminated for a legitimate reason (e.g., misconduct)
- If you were a highly paid key employee and the leave would cause substantial economic injury to the business
- If you were unable to return to work after exhausting your FMLA leave
- But your employer must look to see if other laws might apply, such as a duty to accommodate an eligible employee under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Are you returning from ADA leave?
If you took leave under the ADA as a reasonable accommodation, then the law requires reinstatement to the same job, unless reinstatement to the same job is an undue hardship for the employer. If so, the employer may have to reinstate you to any available vacant position you are qualified to perform.
Are you eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation?
Vocational Rehabilitation provides a variety of services to persons with disabilities, with the ultimate goal to prepare for, enter into, or retain employment. Vocational Rehabilitation is run by your state’s Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) and provides different services, including things like peer support, skill development, systems advocacy, referrals, assistive technology services, transition services, housing assistance, and personal assistance services. To find your state’s DOR, visit TriageCancer.org/StateResources.