Can an employer require employee to provide a doctor’s note stating skin condition is not contagious?

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Can an employer require employee to provide a doctor’s note stating skin condition is not contagious?

On first day of employment I was sent home early and told I could not return to work until I provided a doctors note stating my skin condition, cystic acne, was not contagious. I asked employer if the doctors visit would be provided at their expense and if my time missed from work would be paid. I also asked for a copy of company policy, specifically the section explaining the policy and procedure pertaining to employer’s demands. My employer stated that she would email me a copy of policy and an answer regarding reimbursement. A few hours later I received an email stating I was responsible for doctors cost and time missed would be unpaid. She did not send company policy nor did she mention. I responded in email stating I understood the terms and requested that she send a copy of company policy. The next day she sent an email stating I was terminated. Am I protected under any employment laws?

Asked on November 6, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are not protected because you did not provide the doctor's note, which was a reasonable request. An employer may look to protect its other employees and others *e.g. customers) who come into the workplace from an employee who appears as if he/she may have a communicable condition. You had an easy to comply with request, one which--had you complied with it--would have also brought you under the protections of the ADA and similar laws for employees with medical conditions (employers may request medical verification for conditions before having to accommodate them; they do not have to accommodate without verification). Cystic acne can be an intimidating-looking condition in some cases--asking for evidence you were not contagious was reasonable. In failing to provide same, you unfortunately justified your employer in terminating you.
And no, the employer would not have to pay for the doctor visit cost: an employer may require an employee to bear the cost of showing her  or his eligibility or fitness to work, or his or her need for an accommodation to a medical condition.


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