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Being super sick for a week. I had puss in my head and an ear-ache in both ears along w/a fever for 3 days straight.

by Jessica

I was super, super sick for about a week. I hadn't ever missed a day prior to this and was only late twice. Once due to a power outage and another time when everyone was late due to the weather. I got so sick that the doctor gave me a 10 day doctor's note. 4 days consisted of the weekend, though. So really six days. My head was full of puss and I had a fever and an ear-ache in both ears to go along with it. The doctor said that it was good that I came in. He also said that if I felt better before the end date on my note than I could go back to work. I told my work that, but since it wasn't on the note they wouldn't let me go back until after the date indicated on the note. I didn't know about this until after they terminated me. But here's what I don't get. I talked to my supervisor on day 1 and day 3 and she didn't mention once to me that if I missed more than 3 days that they had to fire me. They called me on day 4 to do just that, fire me. Why didn't they tell me on day 1 or day 3 when I talked to them? Or why didn't they call me on day 2 to tell me? I didn't even know about this policy until right before they told me that I was terminated. Is that fair? Is that legal? Oh, I also mentioned that I could get another note from my doctor stating that I can go back when I feel better, but they wouldn't have it. So again, is that o.k. for them to do? To not tell me about this 3 days and your gone policy, even w/a doctor's note? They said that it's always been their policy, but in my 6 months of working here I have never heard of or about it. What should I do?

Hi Jessica,

Well, first thing you should do is file for unemployment. You'll get it because you had a doctor note. Being sick is not misconduct.

Now as for their policy...a whole lot of employers have policies regarding attendance that is based on a point system and
they terminate irregardless of a person's reason for being absent.

It is usually standard operating procedure for an employer to notify employees upon hire of their policies by giving you an employee handbook...and if they are smart to have you sign an acknowledgment which states you have received the policies. This is done to counter a claimant's claim that they were not aware of the rule or policy because many states cannot find misconduct was committed if the employee had never been made aware of the rule unless the employee did something stupid enough that anyone would know not to do it.

So I'd ask you if you received the policy book upon hire.

As far as legalities goes, an employer can fire you for anything they want to fire you for as long as they do not violate a state or federal labor law.

Most states employ the "at will" employment doctrine to varying degrees. By varying degree I mean some states allow less latitude to the employer.

Back to your question...yes, they can do this, just like you could quit if you wanted to.

But just because they can do this does not mean you can't get unemployment. There are also circumstances when an employee is fired in violation of federal acts such as the ADA (Americans with Disability Act), FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) or in violation of discrimination laws that an employer leaves themselves wide open to wrongful termination lawsuits. It happens all the time, but most Americans don't pursue resources available to them. In your case, you were just plain sick so you really would have no recourse unless the employer violated their own policy.

I do agree with you though, the employer did not handle it fairly. The fact that the supervisor didn't mention anything to you only adds to the fact that you were not fired with good cause.

Personally, I think they were just looking for an excuse to fire you and you provided it. You've only worked there six months so even if they do have to pay unemployment the impact will be minimal to them.

Let us know if they fight it. Some employers are like the energizer bunny when he run into a wall....they step back and then run their heads into the wall again.

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