Can an employer ask an employee for a doctors note if the employee says he is going to the doctor?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can an employer ask an employee for a doctors note if the employee says he is going to the doctor?

We are a small company. We have an employee who claimed to be going to the doctor when he called in sick on Monday. Then Wednesday came around and he is still out sick and claims to be going back to the doctor. He has already been out seven days in the last three months. Does the HIPPA law or any other law prevent employers from asking for this documentation? If we can ask for it, does it matter that the employee has an workmen’s compensation claim but the illnesses he is claiming to go to the doctor for are unrelated to the claim?

Asked on March 14, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Many employers do (and can) ask for doctor's notes from employees, usually as it relates to attendence or safety issues.  Many employee handbooks actually provide that if an employee is out for more than three days because of a medical condition, that they present a note to the employer stating that the employee has been under their care and is able to return to work.  FMLA actually requires a defendant to have a doctor certify their condition in writing before being eligilbe for leave.  Other employers will not pay "sick time" unless the employee presents a doctor's note.  The important thing to remember is consistency and privacy so that you don't get into a retaliation or privacy related lawsuit.  If you ask for a doctor's note from one employee, you need to require it of others in the same situation.  If your employee handbook already provides for this process, then you're covered.  If you don't have an employee handbook, invest in the time and money to get a well written one.  With regard to privacy issues, many companies set up a separate medical file that remains in a secured area.  This prevents the information from being easily accessed or distributed.  If this employee has already filed a worker's comp claim, then you probably already have a system in place for protecting the medical privacy of employees, just add a section for non-worker's comp information.  It sounds like this employee is pushing some limits.  You can set boundaries, just make sure that whatever boundaries you choose are enforced equally.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption