is a supervisor allowed to ask an employee what a family emergency is that has them missing work?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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is a supervisor allowed to ask an employee what a family emergency is that has them missing work?

An employee called in saying that he couldn’t come in to work because of a family emergency. I asked the employee what the family emergency was. They stated it was a family emergency he couldn’t disclose any information, it was private. Can an employee get terminated for not giving a reason?

Asked on January 16, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Hawaii


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unless a worker has protection unde the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, they can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. Bottom line, absent some form of legally actionable discrimination, a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. 

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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