Can I be terminate if I was out of work due to illness but provided a doctor’s note?

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Can I be terminate if I was out of work due to illness but provided a doctor’s note?

I was employed by a hospital as a records clerk for 6 months. I had just had my 6 month review which was perfect, not one thing needing improvement. I came down with a case of shingles and was out for 2 weeks. I went back to work but in less then 2 weeks was in excruciating pain. My doctor told me it was nerve pain from the shingles and wanted me out of work for a month to let things heal. I told my manager and gave her the out of work note from my doctor, however 2 days later the HR person called and terminated me. She said I was an excellent employee and should reapply when I was healthy again. Is this legal ?

Asked on June 17, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal. An employer is not required to retain an employee who cannot do his or her job, even if that is due to a medical cause, unless the employee is eligible for, and uses, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. Unfortunately, if you had only worked for this employer for 6 months or so, you would not be able to take FMLA leave with them. Without FMLA leave, an employer may terminate someone who does not or is not doing the job for which he/she was hired. The doctor's note does not control the employer; the doctor is not an executive at the employer and has no authority over it.


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