Can an employer require employee to provide a doctor’s note stating skin condition is not contagious?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can an employer require employee to provide a doctor’s note stating skin condition is not contagious?

On first day of employment I was sent home early and told I could not return to work until I provided a doctors note stating my skin condition, cystic acne, was not contagious. I asked employer if the doctors visit would be provided at their expense and if my time missed from work would be paid. I also asked for a copy of company policy, specifically the section explaining the policy and procedure pertaining to employer’s demands. My employer stated that she would email me a copy of policy and an answer regarding reimbursement. A few hours later I received an email stating I was responsible for doctors cost and time missed would be unpaid. She did not send company policy nor did she mention. I responded in email stating I understood the terms and requested that she send a copy of company policy. The next day she sent an email stating I was terminated. Am I protected under any employment laws?

Asked on November 6, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You are not protected because you did not provide the doctor's note, which was a reasonable request. An employer may look to protect its other employees and others *e.g. customers) who come into the workplace from an employee who appears as if he/she may have a communicable condition. You had an easy to comply with request, one which--had you complied with it--would have also brought you under the protections of the ADA and similar laws for employees with medical conditions (employers may request medical verification for conditions before having to accommodate them; they do not have to accommodate without verification). Cystic acne can be an intimidating-looking condition in some cases--asking for evidence you were not contagious was reasonable. In failing to provide same, you unfortunately justified your employer in terminating you.
And no, the employer would not have to pay for the doctor visit cost: an employer may require an employee to bear the cost of showing her  or his eligibility or fitness to work, or his or her need for an accommodation to a medical condition.

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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