Is it legal for an employer to ask you why you went to the hospital if you missed work?

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Is it legal for an employer to ask you why you went to the hospital if you missed work?

I missed a day of work. I had sent an e-mail the night before explaining I had to go. My manager asked details of what was wrong, in front of another co-worker at the service desk. I declined an answer due to the sensitivity of the health problem.

Asked on September 19, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is definitely legal. An employer has several legitimate interests in this inquiry, such as:

1) To make sure that it was in fact a legitimate hospital visit or other medical need;

2) To see if it is anything which could impact your ability to do work, which in turn could affect deadlines, staffing (if anyone needs to cover for you), and possibly (if it reflects a disability), the landlord's need to make a "reasonable accomodation"

3) To see if any hazard, big or small is posed, either to you (was it something that makes your job dangerous, as if you passed out or felt dizzy, but your job is to operate heavy machinery?) or to others (anything contagous; should you be sent home or kept away from customers or coworkers?)


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