Could I be terminated from employment for taking 2 weeks off per doctor recommendation if I’m not yet eligible?

UPDATED: Dec 16, 2012

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Could I be terminated from employment for taking 2 weeks off per doctor recommendation if I’m not yet eligible?

I am a rapid cycling bipolar having a nervous breakdown. My doctor recommended 2 weeks off work and wrote a letter for that. I have only been employed 5 months and am not eligible for time off yet. Can they fire me?

Asked on December 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes you can lose your job over this. PTO (i.e. vacation time and sick days) are a discretionary benefit that may or may not be offered by an employer. To the extent that it is given an employer can mandate just when and why such time is taken by an employee.

Additionally, an employee can be fired for any reason or no reason at all; this includes taking time off without permission even it it is as per a doctor's orders.

The fact is that in an employment at will arrangement, an employer can set the terms and conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. So unless some form of legally actionable discrimination is involved in your situation (and it does not appear to be) or discharging you under the circumstances would violate company policy or the terms of an employment/union agreement, your termination would be 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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