Can my employer fire me if I have an doctor’s excuse?

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Can my employer fire me if I have an doctor’s excuse?

I have to take one of my children to the doctor and called my employer the night before I needed to do so. It said excuse or not if I miss it can fire me and I don’t think this is right. I thought if you had an excuse then you are excused that’s why they are called excuses. If I do get fired, can I do something about it because I need my job but my son has to go to the doctor he is sick due to the weather?

Asked on March 20, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your doctor has no authority over the employer, unfortunately; they don't need to listen to him. More generally, the law does not require employers to let employees take time off to go to the doctor (either themselves, or to take a family member). The only exception would be if you, your employer, and the situation were all covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), in which case you'd be entitled to take unpaid leave. However, for that to be the case--

1) The employer must have at least 50 employees who work within a 75-mile radius;

2) You must have worked there, more or less full time, for year; and

 

3) The medical need must be sufficiently serious--and taking someone to a single doctor's visit would not qualify.

To see more about the Family and Medical Leave Act, go to the Department of Labor website--they have some good fact sheets on it.

Unless FMLA or a similar state law (which have similar criteria) applies, your employer is not legally required to let you take  the time off. Certainly, if they have a policy which allows call-offs or taking time off for medical appointments, and you followed the policy, or you have paid time off which you can use (and you're using it properly), then they should honor their own policy and allow you to take the time; but if they haven't voluntarily put in place some policy that would allow you to take the time and FMLA does not apply, they may fire you if you miss work.

An "excuse" just means a reason; an employer does not have to listen to or respect your reason, unfortunately, even if it's a good one. Therefore, what your employer is doing may be unfair, but there is a good chance, unless FMLA applies or you've complied with it's policies about time off, that it is legal.


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