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

UPDATED: Sep 19, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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?)

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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