The most important advice we have for communicating with your employer during your disability leave is doing it in a way that would make it clear to them why and how long you will not be able to work for. While you, of course, have a certain right to medical privacy and confidentiality, the employer is entitled to know that information which is relevant to your limitations and to your request for disability leave under ADA / FEHA or medical leave.
Many employees, while on leave, make this common disability leave mistake of ignoring the employer’s letters that request additional medical information or clarification of previously provided medical notes. This is not a good idea, and this can often give the employer a legitimate reason to terminate an employee who would otherwise have all the protections that are otherwise available to disabled employees.
For instance, suppose you provide your employer some type of medical notes that states that you are sick and you won’t be able to work for 30 days. Your employer is puzzled and they want to know why exactly you wouldn’t be able to work. While they might not be entitled to know your exact diagnosis, they are entitled to know the limitations that affect your ability to work or prevent you from working. For instance, if you need some type of surgery, the employer is not entitled to know what the surgery is, but they are entitled to know that you, for instance, won’t be able to move or walk for a certain period of time.
Failing to provide this information to the employer, when requested, will mean that they are not on notice of your disability. This means that they can generally terminate and not be held liable for wrongful termination / disability discrimination. After all, an employer cannot be liable for discriminating against an employee based on disability, if they are not aware of his disability.