What legal ramifications can be taken against us if we ask a part-time employee not to come back to work after a car accident?

UPDATED: Feb 14, 2012

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What legal ramifications can be taken against us if we ask a part-time employee not to come back to work after a car accident?

This employee has been working around 3-4 days a week and knew going into employment with us that it would be part-time and on an as needed basis. She has been working with us for 7 months. This employee got into a car accident and has been out for 2 weeks and has a doctor’s excuse for another week. If we ask this employee not to come back after having an accident, will she be able to take any legal action against us. This particular accident is eerily similar to an accident she had about a year ago at another employer that she was out for 3 weeks and fired shortly after.

Asked on February 14, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the employee--

1) qualifies for and has taken FMLA leave (which is unlikely; she probably has not worked enough hours, seems to have not worked for a long enough period of time, and also, your business would have to be large enough), then you cannot fire her for  using that leave; or

2) would qualify as disabled, whether due to her car accident or not, you'd have to make "reasonable accomodations" for her and should be very careful about terminating her--however, most medical conditions or injuries do not qualify as a disability.

However, apart from the above, and assuming she does not have an employment contract protecting her job in some way, you are not obligated to hold a position for or retain someone who misses work; and you are not generally legally obligated to honor a doctor's note (the doctor has no legal authority over your business).

If she seems to have any disability or is claiming a disability, definitely consult in detail with an employment law attorney before acting. If she is not disabled or claiming a disability and has not taken FMLA leave (which again, she seems to not qualify for, anyway), you should be able to terminate her.

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