If I have a note from a doctor saying that I’m not supposed to work and to excuse me from working and my job has a no-fault policy for attendance, can I be fired?

Asked on September 12, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can be fired. People often think that an employer must follow a doctor's note or recommendation, and in a way, that is logical we are all used, in our private lives, to taking what doctors say very seriously. However, a doctor does not actually have any authority over your employer--the doctor is not, for example, an owner or executive of the company, and is not a judge or other person who has legally order the company to do something. So the employer is not required to excuse you from working because a doctor said so.
More importantly, the law does not require employers to employee workers who cannot or do not work. So if you can't work or do not come into work, you can be fired unless
1 You have, and use, sufficient earned paid time off e.g. sick days to cover your absence
2 You are eligible for and use unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act leave or similar leave under your state's laws for the absence. You can find the rules for FMLA leave at the U.S. Department of Labor's website.

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