Can my mom be fired die to taking care of an elderly parent?

My mother’s boss is giving her a hard time about taking days off due to my uncle being in the hospital and my 93 year old grandmother needing 24/7 care as she is a fall risk. Can her boss reprimand her or fire her because she needs to be home with my grandmother?

Asked on March 14, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

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

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Actually, unless your mother has vacation, sick pay or PTO to cover her absences, then she can be reprimanded and possibly even terminated. While this may seem unfair, the fact is that an employer can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. That is so long as no form of legally actionable discrimination is the reason for a worker's treatment. In other words, your mother can't be singled out for different treatment due to her race, religion, gender, disability age (over 40), or nationality. So unless your mother has a union agreement or employment contract that states otherwise, her employer has done nothing wrong.


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