Does my employer have to follow my doctor’s note?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Does my employer have to follow my doctor’s note?

I have worked for a drugstore chain for 15 years as shift leader. I have suffered from severe migraines and headaches to the point where I had to go on a medical leave for almost 4 months. For going on a medical leave I was working predominately mornings. After returning to work my schedule was changed dramatically to mainly afternoons 3-10:30 pm mid-shifts due to a new manager. However, due to the medication that I take I have to be able to get at least a solid 8 hours of sleep or it makes my pain worse and I have even more frequent migraines . My neurologist is willing to write me a note for my employer to keep me on mornings. Before I bring this note to my boss, does my employer have to follow that doctor’s note? If so, and they don’t comply or try to demote me, what are my legal rights then?

Asked on October 21, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The issue is, how disruptive will the restrictions that your doctor places you on be to your core job duties? Under the law, an employer is prohibited from discriminating against a worker due to a disability. This may mean making reasonable accomodations. A "reasonable accomodation" is one which does not cost too much money and/or is not too disruptive to the employer. If the requested accomodation requires that the worker be placed in a different job than the one that they were hired to do and/or makes it impossible for them to effectively perform their duties, the company may not have to honor the restriction. In your case, since your accomodation would be to just change you back you your old shift this should create no undue burden on your employer. However, all of the specific facts of the situation will control. Accordingly, if your employer is unwilling to meet your needed schedule change, you should consult directly with an employment law attorney who can best further advise you.

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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