Can my employer terminate me and not inform me?

I suffer from chronic migraines. Recently, I had a very bad period during which
I suffered a migraine every single day from just before Christmas 2016 until
the middle of March 2017. I was not able to attend work AT ALL during that time
period. The time I missed in December was covered by FMLA. During the month of
January I was reapplying for FMLA and awaiting their decision. After being
denied FMLA because I did not have quite enough hours to qualify at that time,
I started looking into what other medical or personal leave my company offered.
My employer never sent me information regarding my options, they aren’t even
the ones that first informed me of FMLA. I looked up the process myself after
receiving advice from people on my online migraine support website. During the
month of February, I spoke to my employer with the intention of attempting to
return to work until I could be approved for a medical leave and receive new
treatment from my doctor. My employer told me that they were taking me off the
schedule while I dealt with my health issues.

While in the process of applying for unpaid medical leave supplied by the
company NOT FMLA, I received new treatment that seems to be effective and I
had my doctor fill out the necessary medical form to submit with my application
for leave. Before I could submit the application, however, I discovered that I
was no longer employed when I went to purchase something and my employee
discount did not work. I contacted my employer to ask if I was fired and it was
only then that I was informed of such, however, when I expressed an interest in
returning back to work since the treatment was working, she indicated that she
would like to have me back to work and suggested that we both contact HR to
find out how I could be reinstated. When I spoke to HR, they informed me that
it was entirely possible for my manager to reinstate me herself depending on
how she coded me out of the system, if not then HR may have been able to do it.
However, after multiple attempts at contacting my manager, she informed me that
she could not/would not reinstate me, citing that her store does not have the
hours available for me and that I should reapply and hope to be hired at
another location.

Throughout the entire period of time that I was unable to work, I kept in
contact with my employer and followed the call out procedures to the best of my
abilities. Every instance of contact with my employer was made by me. I
received no phone calls or notices in the mail from my employer. They did not
even contact me to tell me that my employment was terminated.

Asked on April 21, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless otherwise mandated under the terms of a union agreement or employment contract, there is no legal requirement that a company provide a worker formal notice of their terminaton. The fact is that in an "at will" work arrangement, an employee can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. So unless your treatment consituted some form of actionable discrimination, it was legal.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal: the law does not impose obligations on employers as to communicating with their employees, and similarly does not impose requirements about how termination be done or communicated to employees. While what you describe is unprofessional, it is legal: the employer can take you off schedule or even terminate you without telling you first, or even at the same time they do it; you can find out about it later.


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