Is it legal to fire someone for going to the hospital to see a sick relative who was taken to the ER instead of coming to work?

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Is it legal to fire someone for going to the hospital to see a sick relative who was taken to the ER instead of coming to work?

I have been hired 3 times now by this company so they obviously know I’m a good employee. I started in housekeeping, then went to the front desk. I love working with the guests; they seem to think I’m good at my job. One night I worked 7:00am – 9:3 pm (14 1/2 hours). Today I found out that my brother was rushed to the E.R. I asked if someone would cover me for a few hours and I’d come in when we got back. However, they said that if I didn’t show up, I was fired. Can they do that legally?

Asked on July 16, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A company can set the conditons of employment much as it sees fit. This includes firing someone for not showing up for their shift, no matter what the reason. In fact, even if you had tried to use vacation or PTO, your employer could refuse to let you do so. This is true unless your treatment constitutes some form of legally actionable discrimination or is prohibited by the terms of a union agreement or employment contract.


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