Legally can an employer force you to tell you why you can’t come in if you aren’t scheduled?

I am pregnant and tomorrow is supposed to be my half day. I found out some stuff this morning about my pregnancy and the doctor wants to run some tests. My boss came in and asked me to come in at 8 when I am scheduled to be in at 1:00. I told her I would let her know and later that I couldn’t after getting all the details from my doctor. She later came in asking questions and saying that these appointments sounded fishy because they just came out of the blue today. I found out the test results today and they wanted to do further testing. I didn’t want to indulge the details of what they were testing for because it was a personal matter that I didn’t want to talk about even with close friends and family. My boss continued to ask and wouldn’t stop until I finally gave in and told her. I also cried.

Asked on May 24, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In general, employers are allowed to ask for the details of an illness/medical condition. The fact is that it's perfectly reasonable for a manager to ask an employee for certain details/brief explanation for a condition that is keeping the employee out of work. Otherwise it would be a no-questions-asked sick leave policy that would probably be quickly be abused. 
However, there is an exception to the foregoing if the reason for the absence is a medical condition that's protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act which offers protections to employees with physical or mental impairments. That having been said, someone with a minor condition of short duration generally wouldn't be covered.

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