Is it legal to discipline or fire me for missing work due to my illness and my child’s injury?

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Is it legal to discipline or fire me for missing work due to my illness and my child’s injury?

At the end of last month, I missed 3 1/2 days of work due to an as yet undiagnosed illness/injury that caused me immense pain in my back. The next week my son was ill which led to my missing 2 1/2 days taking him to the doctor and having some testing done. Last week, I missed 3 days after my son hurt his knee and was in

excruciating pain. He is 11, and I am a single mother, with no one to help me. Also is at issue is that at times I am late. I have 3 chronic illnesses – psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and mastocytosis, as well as 2 herniated disks in my back. I am in constant pain but I go to work and struggle through the day, however, sometimes I am late. There are days that it takes me longer to get going in the morning, my boss knows this, yet I am being disciplined for being late and missing too much work. Is any of this legal?

Asked on October 21, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

It is legal. Even when it is for your own or a child's illness, you can only miss work legally if one or both of the following apply:
1) You have and use paid time off (PTO) you earned, such as sick days; 
2) Your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which means it has at least 50 employees located within a 75 mile radius; you are eligible for FMLA leave, which means you worked there at least one year and worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months; your (or child's) condition qualifies for using FMLA (you can find information about when you can and can't use FMLA on the U.S. Dept. of Labor webpage); and you ask for and use FMLA leave.
That's it: unless you use PTO or FMLA, there is no right to miss work (or be late to it) and you can be terminated or otherwise disciplined for absenteeism.


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