Is it legal for an employer to cut your hours to no hours because you got sick even though you properly informed them before you missed any work?

My hours went from well over 40 hours a week but the past 2 months I have worked a total of 5 days. I had to pay them back the per diem from when I was sick, they have been mistreating me and lying to me and I have proof. Is there anything I can do? Also, they won’t put me in a hotel if I’m 50 miles out of town like they say is there policy.

Asked on July 17, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Employment is employment at will: an employee's hour may be cut back, even to almost nothing, at any time, for any reason, with very few exceptions. In your case, the two relevant exceptions would be:

1) If your illness was an actual "disability"--not merely being sick, but some condition which had a significant and unavoidable affect on your ability to do basic life functions (many neurological and some autoimmune diseases qualify as disabilities, for example; the flu, even a bad or prolonged one, does not)--then cutting your hours back may constitute illegal, disability-based discrimination and you may wish to speak to your state's equal/civil rights agency, or to the federal EEOC, about filing a complaint.

2) If you were eligible for and used FMLA leave, they are not allowed to retaliate against you for doing so, and you may wish to speak to the state or federal department of labor about what may be illegal retaliation.

Otherwise, though, they may cut your hours or days at will.

As to the hotel issue: the law does not require employers to *ever* put employees in hotels, so they have the right to not do this if they chose, unless they are doing it based on disability-related discrimination or FMLA retaliation, as discussed above.

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