Is it legal for my employer to fire me due to medical reasons?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it legal for my employer to fire me due to medical reasons?

I am having medical issues from a minor surgery and have had to take time off work. My employer has slyly threatened I could be fired if I continue to call out due to medical issues. I have had doctor notes but haven’t been able to get one relieving me for more then a few days at a time. Is it legal for them to fire me if I am having medical issues? What documentation do I need to insure they don’t fire me?

Asked on November 5, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can be fired for missing work unless you do so in one of the two ways below. That is because, except as set forth below, there is no general right to miss work, and no obligation on the part of employers to retain employees who do not go to work.
You can only miss work without being terminated if:
1) You have and use sufficient paid time off (PTO) which you earned, like sick days, to cover *all* the absence. 
2) If your employer is covered by Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave (which means it has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius), you are eligible for FMLA leave (worked there at least a year; worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months), and you used FMLA leave for your absences. (If you can use FMLA leave, you can get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave of medical reasons, during which time you cannot be fired for missing work; the leave does not all have to be taken at once, but you can instead take days here and there as needed for recovery, doctor's visits, etc.)
Other than as above, if you don't use FMLA leave or PTO for the absences, you may be termianted. The doctor's notes have not effect; the doctor has no power at or over your employer.

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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