Can a company terminate you for taking 3 days off for a family medical emergency?

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Can a company terminate you for taking 3 days off for a family medical emergency?

I recently had to take time off for that reason and I followed all of the company’s policies for taking time such as calling ahead of time to notify them of my situation. They assured me that my employment was not in danger. However on the 3rd day I was terminated. I feel they did not follow proper procedures as per their own employee manual. Up until that point I had been a good employee w/no write-ups on time every day etc. I strongly feel that I have been wrongfully terminated and let me add this I provided them w/documentation as to the medical emergency. Is this legal?

Asked on November 21, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Normally, an employer is not required to provide an employee with leave for a family medical emergency, unless the emergency qualifies under the Family and Medical Leave Act (so, for example, it would have to involve a spouse or child) and the employee complies with the requirements of that act. However, if the company had in place a policy for allowing such leave, such a policy could constitute an implied contract or agreement to allow employees to take such leave, provided that they comply with the policy's requirements; thus, the company would seem, from what you write, to have to follow its own policy about allowing such leave, assuming that you did what was required of you. In addition, if a supervisor specifically told you that you could take leave and you only went on leave after his/her promise or representation, your reasonable reliance on that promise or representation could make the promise binding on the company.

Therefore, in this case, there seems, from what you write, as if there may be two possible grounds to hold your company accountable for firing you despite your having used leave to which you apparently were entitled. You should consult with an employment law attorney about this situation in greater detail to see what your rights and options are.


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