Is it legal to fire someone when absences were covered by doctor’s notes?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal to fire someone when absences were covered by doctor’s notes?

I work in a plant that has a points system. Regardless if you are sick and have a doctor’s excuse, you are given a point unless the sickness can be covered by FMLA. However, not all illnesses are covered by this. I recently was ill and had to leave work because of it and went to the doctor each time and they faxed a note to my workplace. Due to their points system failing to differentiate between a doctor covered illness and anything else, I am going to be suspended and/or fired.

Asked on February 16, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you miss work without 1) having and using sufficient paid time off (e.g. sick days) to cover the absences and/or 2) being eligible for (and your employer covered by--e.g. having at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius) and using FMLA leave, then you may be fired for unauthorized or excessive absences, even if you had doctor's notes. Employers are not required to retain employees who miss work if they don't cover their absences with PTO or FMLA, even if the missed for medical reasons and had a doctor's note. (The doctor has no authority over your employer.)

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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