Can I sue for lost wages if I’m fired from work for refusing to work while sick?

I worked at Carrabbas Italian
Restaurant for 3 months. I had never
been late and only called in sick
once. I furnished a doctors note
excusing me for that day and the
rest of the week, which I had off
anyways. While home sick my job
called me to cover other people’s
shifts. I declined. Then I went back
to work while still feeling sick and
worked without being told to go
home. A few days later my illness
got worse and while working I asked
to go home and see a doctor. This
was a Sunday night. The management
said no and to work regardless. I
felt faint and called for a ride
home. The following morning I went
to a Specialist to find out I had an
ammonia. And when I went back to
work with a doctors note, my
employer told me I was terminated.

Asked on March 16, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Did you attempt to use a sick day or PTO time? If not, then your employer did nothing wrong. No matter how unfair no law was broken. The fact is unless this action violated company policy or a term of a union agreemwnt or employment contract, it was legal. Additionally, your treatment must not have constituted legal discrimination (which it does not appear to). The fact is that "at will" employment entitles a compnay to set the the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. This includes making a worker come in while sick and terminating their employment if they don't.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, even when the employer is wrong is in a moral (or public health) sense to make you work when sick, they have the legal right to do so, unless you had and properly used earned sick day/sick leave to be away from work. So if you left work in the middle of work, even if you felt sick--even if you were truly sick--they could legally terminate you, which means that you would have no claim for lost wages.

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