Can I get fired for taking too much time off from work if my kids are sick?

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Can I get fired for taking too much time off from work if my kids are sick?

My company’s policy states that you cannot take off more than 5 times in a rolling 12 month period for sick time, whether it pertains to yourself or your kids. This is true regardless if you have accumulated sick time or not. I have gotten written up recently for taking off 4 times this year because either my kids or I were sick, maybe 20 times total within a 10 year period. Most of these times, of course, were because of my kids. When I was written up, I was told the next time could result in termination. Is this legal in any way? Can they discriminate against mother’s with sick children?

Asked on July 18, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Do you have a union agreement or employment contract that runs contrary to this possible action? If not then your employer would be well within it rights to terminate you under the circumstances. Such action is part of its existing company policy, a policy of which you are fully aware. Further, no claim of discrimination an be made. Only members of a legally protected class can make such a claim and mother's of sick children are not part of any such class. The fact is that as an "at will" employer, a business can dictate the terms of employment much as it sees fit. This iincludes deciding if and when time is to off to be allowed. And if and when an employee is to be terminated (with or without notice).  And an "at will" employee can choose to continue working for an employer or not.


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