Can I be fired for going to the hospital?

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Can I be fired for going to the hospital?

I recently was fired for going inpatient due to several severe mental illnesses.
I let them know ahead of time I had to go, I did not say in detail why but I was becoming actively suicidal and had started self harming seriously. It took years for me to finally take the step to get help and I asked before hand what procedures I had to do for this case. I was told to have someone cover all my shifts and I dropped all my shifts. I am not sure if any one picked them up but the next morning I was actively planning suicide and was sent to the hospital and then straight to an inpatient facility.
I have documents saying I was there and emails asking what I need to do. I had no problems at work before hand and was told I had progressed alot but then all of a sudden they call me after I got out saying that I haven’t progressed and that they are letting me go. Even going as far to laugh off firing me during the holidays.
Staff at the hospital have said they cannot legally do that but I want to know, can they? And if not, what can I do? I am at a loss and feel so disrespected. Especially for something I cannot control.

Asked on December 31, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you did not use any time under the FMLA or any PTO (sick days, vacation, etc.) that you may have had, then you missed work unexcused and without coverage which is a violaion of stated company policy. Therefore, you could have been terminated (suspended or otherwise disciplined). In fact, an employee can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. What most workers do not realize is that is the majority of employment relationships are "at will", which means that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. The exceptions being if theirr treatment violated the terms of any appplicable union agreement or employment contract, or constituted some form of legally actionable discrimination or retaliaition.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Did you have and use sick days for the absence--based on what you write, it appears that you did not. If so, then if you missed work and dropped shifts without, as your employer requested, making sure someone else covered them, you could be terminated for absenteeism. Your medical or psychological issues are, to be blunt, *your* issues, not your employers: they do not give you the right to miss work unless 1) you used paid time off (e.g. sick days) you'd earned to cover your absence and/or 2) had employer approval to miss the time, which can be contingent on making sure your shifts were covered (and not simply "dropping" them). Based on what you write, this appears to have been legal.


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