What are my rights after being forced to come into work after having had oral surgery?

I recently received emergency oral surgery and made sure to call in several hours before my shift to ensure my managers understood that I would be taking the day off to recouperate After the procedure I received several phone calls from my managers hinting that I would receive disciplinary action if I did not show up to work. I was still recovering, was on pain medication and still shaken as I have a fear of dentists. I went in to work because I was genuinely afraid to lose my only source of income. The following day I called my dentist’s office and asked them to fax over the note confirming that I did have emergency oral surgery and was repeatedly asked for my note even after telling them to check the fax machine. Do I have a case?

Asked on January 11, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your employer was within its rights in requesting such a note. The fact is that an employer can set the term and conditions of employment as it sees fit; this includes requiring a doctor's (or dentitst's) note regarding an absence from work. This is known as "at will" employment. So unless this action violated company policy, a union agreement or employment contract, no law has been broken. Additionally, your employer's treatment of you must not have been the result of actionable discrimination.

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