Can my job refuse to accept a medical excuse signed and authorized by a physician?

UPDATED: Oct 25, 2013

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Can my job refuse to accept a medical excuse signed and authorized by a physician?

Asked on October 25, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes. Your physician has no legal authority over your job. That said, if you otherwise qualify for it, you could take unpaid leave (up to 12 weeks) under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)--basically, if you've been a full-time employee for a year, you most likely qualify, if you need time off to recuperate or for medical treatment, and IF your employer has at least 50 employees). If you are disabled (which means a disability affecting life and lasting at least 6 months) but can still do your job--the same job you were hired for--with "reasonable" accomodations, your employer would have to provide you those accomodations. Reasonable accomodations are changes in procedure or process, or the provision of assistive technology, which is not too expensive or disruptive, such as letting a cashier with leg problems sit instead of stand; providing a larger, magnified computer screen for someone with vision problems; etc.

However, those are your only rights: to leave under FMLA (or a similar state law), or reasonable accomodations for a disabled person. Otherwise, the employer can insist that you be able to show up for work and do your job; and fire you (or anything short of firing: e.g. demote, suspend, etc.) if you can't. The doctor, again, has no authority over your job.

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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