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I’m hurt or sick and I have to miss work – am I protected?

March 31, 2014 Legal Team

There are many protections available to employees who are hurt or sick and have to miss work. For instance, if an employee is hurt on the job, he may be protected by workers’ compensation law. If an employee has a disability that interferes with the kind of activities you normally do every day, she may be protected by disability laws, called the Fair Employment And Housing Act (FEHA). An employee who has a serious health condition – something that requires either hospitalization for a few days or repeated treatment – is protected by medical leave law, including the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

Here are some examples – can you guess which laws protect the employees?

1.  Juan’s arm was broken when a coworker accidentally dropped a heavy box on him.  Juan was to go to physical therapy every day for a month and cannot lift anything heavy.

2. Samantha hurt her back in a ski accident several years ago and now can’t sit for more than an hour or two a day.

3. Maria’s knees are bad from playing soccer when she was younger.  It is hard for her to stand for a long time.  She had to spend a few days in the hospital after surgery to fix her knees.

4. Jack has a bad cold and feels too ill to work for a day or two.


1. Juan may be protected by worker’s compensation, medical leave, and disability laws.

2. Samantha may be protected by disability law.

3. Maria may be protected by disability and medical leave laws.

4. Jack’s cold, by itself, is not considered serious and is not covered by any of the three kinds of laws, but may qualify for sick leave if his employer offers it.