Must an employer honor a doctor’s note?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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Must an employer honor a doctor’s note?

My husband had to be out of work this last week because of a staph infection on his foot, he had a staph infection a couple weeks ago in another area and had to miss work. We have all the doctor’s notes for it. His boss is threatning to fire him if he is not back next week. If he is fired, what are our legal options?

Asked on August 26, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

No, your husband's employer does not need to honor a doctor's note. While we are all used to treating doctors as authoritative figures, the fact is, a doctor has no authority over a business--he is not an owner or executive, for example, and has no right to tell the employer what to do or not do. An employer is not required to give employees time off from work unless--
1 the employee has earned and used paid time off PTO e.g. sick days for the missed days at work or 
2 the employee is eligible for and used leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act FMLA you can find the eligibility criteria at the U.S. Department of Labor website.
Apart from 1 and 2 above, if an employee misses work, even for medical reasons or with a doctor's note, the employer may hire him.

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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