Whatto do if I was written up after providing a doctor’s note excusing me from work?

UPDATED: Jan 13, 2012

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Whatto do if I was written up after providing a doctor’s note excusing me from work?

I work in a rural hospital. I am involved in direct patient care and have been employed with this facility for 3years. This is my first absence. I spoke to our HR rep and she was in agreement with my director. The reason on the write-up was “being unable to cover my on-call shift due to illness”. I just don’t understand how they are able to write us up if our physician believes we are to ill to return to work.

Asked on January 13, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Your physician has no authority over your employer--it doesn't matter what he or she writes, the employer does not have to respect it or take it into account.

Remember: employers do not need to provide sick days; they also don't even need to allow employees to take even unpaid time off from work. An employer is free to fire employees who miss work, even with a doctor's note, unless the employer's own policy or benefits (e.g. sick days) say otherwise. And an employer is free to put its own policies or rules into place, including writing up people when they are absent or unable to work.

The law only provides the most minimal protection for being ill or disabled at work. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, a covered employer must provide leave time for "serious illnesss," which are defined as basically being 3 days or more of being impaired and/or under a doctor's care. (That's an approximation of the actual standard: for the detailed rules, go to the Department of Labor's website.) And if you have an actual disability, your employer must try to reasonably accomodate you. But apart from that, an employer may determine how to treat ill employees.

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