Can my employer fire me for failure to report to work while on sick leave.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my employer fire me for failure to report to work while on sick leave.

I requested some vacation time and was denied the dates I requested. Then I got
sick and my doctor told me to stay off from work. But the days he told me to
stay off are the exact days that I had previously requested off for vacation.
Now my employer wants to fire me for failure to report to work. Can they do

Asked on September 23, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) As a general matter, if you took the time off in violation of company policy (e.g. they do not have a "call out" policy to take time off for illness) and/or without using paid time off that you had earned (e.g. sick days) for the absence, you may be fired. The law does not require employers to let employees miss work for being sick, unless a) there is, and the employee complies with, a company policy allowing it; b) the employee uses sick days; or c) the company is covered by, the employee is eligible for, the illness qualifies for, and the employee properly uses FMLA leave. Absences, other than a), b), or c), can result in termination, even when there is  doctor's advice to miss work.
2) Even if you technically complied with company sick leave policy or used sick days, if the company reasonably, on the evidence, believes that you lied and used sick leave or sick days when you were not sick--for example, used them to get a vacation which had been denied to you--then you could be terminated for that: sick leave can only be used when actually sick. If you took off the exact days that you had been denied for vacation leave, that looks very much like you were using sick days to get a vacation when you otherwise could not. Unless you can prove the illness and the medical advice that you take those exact days off (e.g. by documentation from a doctor), the employer is justified as treating what you did as an unauthorized absence and an attempt to get around the company's decision about your vacation, and terminate you on that basis.

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 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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