Canmy employer make me work even though I feel sick?

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Canmy employer make me work even though I feel sick?

I am currently feeling sick with nausea. Due to me feeling sick all day I decided to call my employer at around 9 pm, to let it know that I still felt sick and couldn’t go to work tomorrow morning. My supervisor was not too happy to hear that and he told me in a demanding voice, “You would rather loose your job than to take an over the counter medicine?” I replied with a, “No”. His final words were, “I’ll see you here tomorrow working”. Is it legal for them to make me go to work even though I am sick?

Asked on January 30, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Paid sick leave may or may not be part of the terms of employment.  Most states do not have legislation which requires payment for sick leave; it is offerd at an employer's discretion.  However, if you do have such earned or accrued leave to cover your absence, then it cannot be denied to you.  There may be legal grounds to sue if you are fired for using it.  If a company chooses to grant sick leave as an employee benefit, it typically becomes part of an employee's compensation. Accordingly, an employee has a right to use it, subject to any limitations or restrictions on its use (e.g. producing a doctor's note) of which the employee has previously been made aware.

Note:  In cases of repeated sickness, an employer may have grounds for considering the nature of the illness and absence.  Any patterns of absence from the workplace or high levels of absenteeism can be considered and may be grounds for dismissal, if an employer has reason to believe that these absences are willful and/or not related to acceptable reasons for absence.

Finally, if your employer does not offer sick time, personal days, etc., then yes you can be fired for calling in sick.  The reason is that most employment relationships are "at will", so unless you have an employment contract, union agreement, or there is company policy to the contrary, you may be fired for any reason or no reason at all (so long as no form of workplace discrimination is involved).


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.

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