Written up and threat of job loss

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Written up and threat of job loss

This last Friday, my boss called me into her office with HR on the phone. She had a couple pieces of paper in front of her that she handed me. There were things written on there that she is unhappy with me about, most of which I do not agree with. After we were done, she said to sign and return to HR by Monday. I got a call from her a little bit ago saying HR had notified her I had not signed nor returned the paperwork. I told her I didn’t agree with everything and was still deciding whether or not I was going to sign. She said that I didn’t have a choice, that I could make comments, but that I had to sign it. I need to talk to someone about this and find out if what theyre doing is legal. One of the items mentioned on the paperwork is that I’ve taken too many sick days. I have autoimmune problems and get sick worse and longer than others. What should I do?

Asked on October 25, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) Any issues not related to your disorder are ones you can be discipined for. So, say that your disorder causes you to miss work but that you also have poor performance and talk about to a supervisor (insubordination)--those other two factors are unrelated to your condition and so your condition does not prevent them from taking action about those issues.
2) Even where your condition affects or causes the issue in question, there are limits to an employer's obligation to take cognizance of or make accommodations for it. For example, you write that you take more sick days than others. If you are only using days you earned/accrued (earned PTO or sick times), then as long as you have not exceeded your earned days, they cannot take action against you for that--the earned days are part of your compensation, and you may use them even if most employees don't.
However, if you use more than your earned number of sick days, you are may disciplined or even terminated for absenteeism unless you then were able to (and did) use FMLA leave for medical-related absences: the law does not let you miss work without using PTO or FMLA leave (or leave under some state law similar to FMLA), even for medical conditions. Employers may expect and require their employees to be at work.
Similarly, say that your employer does not award sick days or PTO for this purpose, but has a "call out" policy that lets employees call out sick on an unpaid basis. If an employee calls out much more often than his/her colleagues, that would likely be considered "unreasonable" and an employer would again not have to retain an employee who is commonly not available for work. An employer would have to let you call out a "reasonable" number of times, but not an "unreasonable" number.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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