Is it illegal for an employer to instruct its employees not to communicate with a coworker who is out on short term disabitily about work issues?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Is it illegal for an employer to instruct its employees not to communicate with a coworker who is out on short term disabitily about work issues?

I’m out on a short term disability and was told by a colleague that he and others were instructed not to speak to me about work because I am out on disability. they said it came from our HR person. that is has something to do with the labor/tax laws.

Asked on October 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

First of all, even if you briefly touched on office matters in your conversations but inadvertently provided related information, etc. while out on disability, this could constitute "work" which would violate the law. Consequently, not having conversations with co-workers makes sense. The fact is that most employment arrangments are what is known as "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of work much as it sees fit, which includes prohibiting employees from discussing office matters with a co-worker who is out on leave. Accordingly, unless this action in some way violates the terms of a union agreement/employment contract or constitutes some form of legally actionable discrimination, it is legal.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is perfectely legal: an employer may freely instruct its employees to not discuss work with *anyone* they like--including other employees, whether out on disability, on vacation, or still at work. There is no law giving employees a right to discuss their jobs or work--it is up to employer policy and instructions.
And your employer is actually correct: if you are out on disability, you are *out on disability*--you are not working. There is thin line between simply chatting about work and actually working: if you were to offer suggestions, give information or instructions, etc. to a coworker, you would be working while on disability, which is a violation of the law. It is far safer to simply ban work-releated conversations with someone on disability.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption