Can an employer legally ask you how sick are you when you call in sick?

UPDATED: Sep 19, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Sep 19, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can an employer legally ask you how sick are you when you call in sick?

I work part-time and do not receive any benefits, sick days, personal days, etc. I recently was ill and when I called my manager to inform her that I would not be able to make it to work she asked me, “Well how sick are you?” Can she legally ask that question?

Asked on September 19, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There is no law about asking an employee how sick he or she is, or with what, and some legitimate reasons that an employer should ask; for example--

* to make sure the employee really was sick

* to see if it was what the employer would consider a valid reason to not come in to work

* to see if the employee possibly poses a threat (e.g. has the flu; could be infectious) and should stay away until well

If you don't have an employment contract, you are an employee at will. As an employee at will, you may be fired at any time, for any reason. If you do not answer the question, the employer could certainly terminate your employment.

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 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 lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption