Can I get in trouble for going to a doctor’s appointment?

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Can I get in trouble for going to a doctor’s appointment?

I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow following a throat surgery. I have been trying for a week to get this shift covered and haven’t been able to. My supervisors are threatening that if do not come in tomorrow that they will write me up for it. However I can not drive on this medication hydrocodone let alone care for small children. Even if I reschedule the appointment I can’t go in because my doctor hasn’t cleared me. This is not a small place, it is a very large gym company that has a child care center. I feel that this is selective/discriminatory on their part due to the fact, multiple of other employees have left for weeks at a time for leisure getting none of their shifts covered with no repercussions.

Asked on August 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In an "at will" work relationship, a business can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. This includes terminating, suspending or otherwise disciplining a worker for taking time off to go to a doctor's appointment (this is true even if they have a note). An employee cannot miss work unless they have and use PTO to cover the absence; are following the company's policy about taking such time off (if there is one); and/or the company is covered by and the employee is eligible f FMLA leave under the circumstances. Otherwise, an employee has no inherent right to be absent from work other than for what might be provided for under the terms of an employment contract or union/collective bargaining agreement. Also, no form of legally actionable discrimination must be the reason for not allowing a worker to keep their doctor's appointment.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, an employee has no inherent right to miss work for a doctor's appointment, no matter how much she needs it. An employee may be terminated for missing work for a medical appointment unless she has and uses paid time off (PTO) to cover the absence, or was eligible for and used FMLA leave (you can find the criteria for when you, your employer, and the condition/medical need are covered by FMLA on the U.S. Department of Labor website).
If you feel that you are being treated differently or worse than other employees due to your sex (e.g. that you are woman), your race, your religion, your age (if you are over 40), or disability, then you may have an employment discrimination case, and may wish to contact the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency about possibly bringing a complaint. Otherwise, however, the employer may deny you permission to go to the appointment unless you can use and do use PTO or FMLA, and can terminate you if you go anyway.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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