What are my rights to return to work after an illness?

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What are my rights to return to work after an illness?

On the 5th of last month, I had to be taken to the emergency room for pain in my abdomen. It turned out to be gallbladder related. I was released on the 6th. I returned to work on the 7th and worked

that full day. On morning of the 8th, after getting ready for work, I had a stroke and was rushed to hospital. I made sure that the company was notified through my cousin since I was unable to speak due to the stroke. The company benefits person and my supervisor’s only concern was getting me to fill out a leave of absence form, which I was able to do once released from hospital on the 12th. I sent in copies of discharge paperwork and followed their directions. The yesterday, my doctor released me

back to work with no restrictions. I sent the benefits department and supervisor copies of my doctor’s letter, however I received no response. I called supervisor this morning but no reply. Where do I stand?

Asked on January 6, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that unless your time off was covered by PTO (or sick days/vacation time), or you were covered by and used the FMLA, you can be terminated for any reason (or no reason at all) at any time. Your only protection would be if you have a union agreement or employment contract that provides otherwise, or your treatment would constitute some form of legally actionable discrimination (which it does not appear to based on the facts presented). Additionlly, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) can sometimes afford a worker certain rights regarding an illness but it does not seem to be applicable in your case.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unless you--
1) Used earned or accrued paid time off (PTO) to cover your absence; and/or
2) Were eligible for (and your employer covered by) FMLA leave and used FMLA leave for the absence
--you may be terminated (or not reinstated, after having been out); the law does not require employers to retain or reinstate employees who miss work, even for illness or other medical reasons. So the critical question here is whether you used PTO and/or FMLA leave for your absence. A doctor's note does not make a difference; the doctor does not actually have any authority over the employer.
(In terms of being able to use FMLA: your employer must have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius; and you must have worked there at least a year and worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months...and you must have requested FMLA leave.)


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