Is it fair for an employee to give a written warning for absences and leaving early when it was due to medical needs and note was provided?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it fair for an employee to give a written warning for absences and leaving early when it was due to medical needs and note was provided?

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day I got a written warning in regards to my absences and leaving early. I suffered medical issues which left me in the hospital and having multiple visits with doctors I’ve provided notes for everything but yet nothing was excused and now I receive a written warning. What can I do? Is it legal and right for them to this?

Asked on September 27, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you used PTO (i.e. sick time or vacation) to cover your absences, then you should not have had a problem with your employer. However, if your time out was unexcused, then your employer was within its rights to write you up. While seemingly unfair, it was perfectly permissable. The fact is that doctors' notes are not legally binding on a company. Therefore, unless you have protection under the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, you have no claim. A company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit(absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). 

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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