Can I sue my recent employer for not paying me sick pay while on doctor’s excuse?

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Can I sue my recent employer for not paying me sick pay while on doctor’s excuse?

I got hurt on 11 days ago. I went to the doctor and I got a excuse to be excused from work for a week. I personally faxed my excuse note to my district manager. However I got fired from my job 3 days after I went on sick leave. Can they do that? Also, I received my last check from the company and it was short. I called the HR department and asked why, they told me that they had no record of sick leave and that they cannot help me because there was no claim. I tired calling my Regional Manager and the VP of the company. Everyone keeps giving me the runaround and I just need advice.

Asked on July 8, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all you need to be aware that the majority of employment arrangements are what is known as "at will".  This means that an employee can work for an employer or not, their choice.  In turn this also means that an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason whatsoever, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements and revoke benefits as they see fit.  And, as in your case, this applies to your termiation. It also applies to your denial of sick pay; the reason is that sick time, the same as vacation time, is a discretionary benefit that may or may not be provided by an employer.  Accordingly, an employer may control when and if it is taken. Or, as in your case, whether it is permitted at all.  Federal, and most state laws, do not regulate such time.  So absent a company policy, or an union or employment contract, or some form of discrimination, an "at will" your employer's actions - denying you sick time and then terminating your employment - were legal.


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