Can my employer fire me if I have an doctor’s excuse?

UPDATED: Mar 20, 2012

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Can my employer fire me if I have an doctor’s excuse?

I have to take one of my children to the doctor and called my employer the night before I needed to do so. It said excuse or not if I miss it can fire me and I don’t think this is right. I thought if you had an excuse then you are excused that’s why they are called excuses. If I do get fired, can I do something about it because I need my job but my son has to go to the doctor he is sick due to the weather?

Asked on March 20, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your doctor has no authority over the employer, unfortunately; they don't need to listen to him. More generally, the law does not require employers to let employees take time off to go to the doctor (either themselves, or to take a family member). The only exception would be if you, your employer, and the situation were all covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), in which case you'd be entitled to take unpaid leave. However, for that to be the case--

1) The employer must have at least 50 employees who work within a 75-mile radius;

2) You must have worked there, more or less full time, for year; and


3) The medical need must be sufficiently serious--and taking someone to a single doctor's visit would not qualify.

To see more about the Family and Medical Leave Act, go to the Department of Labor website--they have some good fact sheets on it.

Unless FMLA or a similar state law (which have similar criteria) applies, your employer is not legally required to let you take  the time off. Certainly, if they have a policy which allows call-offs or taking time off for medical appointments, and you followed the policy, or you have paid time off which you can use (and you're using it properly), then they should honor their own policy and allow you to take the time; but if they haven't voluntarily put in place some policy that would allow you to take the time and FMLA does not apply, they may fire you if you miss work.

An "excuse" just means a reason; an employer does not have to listen to or respect your reason, unfortunately, even if it's a good one. Therefore, what your employer is doing may be unfair, but there is a good chance, unless FMLA applies or you've complied with it's policies about time off, that it is legal.

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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