CanI be terminated due to my absences from work?

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CanI be terminated due to my absences from work?

I worked for a doctor’s office. I was sick alot but I had doctors notes (if not every time most of the time). I am being told the notes, as well as the providers sending me home due to illnesses, doesn’t matter. They are looking at the total history of my 11 years with the company. Each time I had sick leave and vacation time available to use.

Asked on August 8, 2011 Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, a doctor's notes don't matter: a company is under no general obligation to allow employees to take time off from work for *any* reason--for example, companies choose to provide sick days; the law does not make them do this. So you can be fired for absenteeism despite doctor's notes. The exceptions are:

1) You used sick, vacation, or other PTO days that you had earned; as long as days you earned covered the absences, and you complied with any/all rules about taking them (e.g. proper notice), you may be able to fight termination.

2) If your employer is covered by some leave law, like the Family and Medical Leave Act (though note: FMLA only covers employers with at least 50 employees) and you qualify for coverage, too (e.g. worked enough), then if you properly invoked and used the protected leave, you cannot be fired.


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