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Can I Get Fired for Calling in Sick?

Employee calling into work sick

With many employees starting to go back into the office after the pandemic, many wonder what would happen if they were to get sick. For instance, you wake up one morning with a sore throat and headache. You will need to take the day off, but are afraid of your employer then retaliating against you. This is a very common scenario, and a common thought many employees have going through their mind is: is it legal for an employer to fire you after calling in sick?

Generally, an employer cannot fire you for calling in sick. If you have experienced a change in your employment after calling in sick or taking a medical leave, it is important to seek advice from an attorney immediately. It is crucial to understand your employment contract and your employment rights.

Wrongful termination occurs when an employer terminates an employee for no reason. The reason may be invalid, and oftentimes, considered illegal in many states. Visit our wrongful termination page to learn more about the laws regarding it.

Employment Contract

It is crucial to read an employment contract before signing it. When an employee is first signing on with an employer, the employee must be able to understand what type of employment relationship they are getting into. For example, an at-will employment is a type of relationship where the employer could fire the employee for any reason. The employer does not need a valid reason.  So, the employee could get fired for calling in sick. It also means that the employee could leave on their own for any reason. This type of employment has its positives and negatives. Although it does not restrict the employee, it also does not guarantee a stable position for the employee.

Nevada Paid Sick Leave Laws

Nevada requires that companies who are located in the state and have at least 50 employees provide 40 hours of paid sick leave within a calendar year. Starting January 1st 2021, companies with less than 500 employees were no longer required to give their employees paid sick leave for getting covid-19. If the employee were to leave the company with unpaid sick leave days, the employer must pay the employee for the unused time. If the employee is not provided sick leave, the employee must contact the Nevada Labor Commissioner that specifically deals with this case. The employer could be held liable, and also pay punitive damages.

California Paid Sick Leave Laws

California requires that certain employers provide sick leave for their employees. Usually, every time an employee works 30 hours, they are entitled to one hour of paid sick leave. This is subject to change or increase depending on the employer. Employers must provide at least three days of paid sick leave throughout a calendar year. Employers are also required to track their employees sick leave days and how much time has been used. To qualify you must work for an employer for at least 30 days. This includes full-time, and temporary employees. The calendar year is determined by the start date of when the employee began work. Certain employers could also provide their employees in advance with paid sick leave prior to the employee accruing these sick leave days.

Federal Protections

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, an employee can take up 12 weeks off when dealing with a serious illness. This is also relevant when the employee takes off to care for a family member who has a serious illness.

Situations where the Family and Medical Leave Act applies include:

  • When the employee has a baby
  • When the employee has a serious medical illness
  • When the employee’s family member has a serious medical illness

Instances that include wrongful termination are:

  • You were fired because you got sick
  • You were fired because your employer found out you filed for disability
  • Your hours have been decreased after coming back from disability or maternity leave
  • You were fired after coming back from disability or maternity leave
  • You were fired after telling your employer that you were going to take maternity leave

Steps an Employee Can Take

An employee can take certain steps make sure they are not fired for calling in sick. Although being fired is not something within an employee’s control, there are certain steps an employee can take to make sure they are not liable.

  • It is important for the employee to call in sick and let their employer know in advance. If an employee feels to call in sick and does not show up to work that day, the employer has a valid reason for termination. This will not be a basis for wrongful termination.
  • When an employee uses an excessive number of sick days without good cause or a valid medical reason, an employee may be terminated. This will not be a basis for wrongful termination.
  • What an employee is first hired, an employee must look into their employment contract and understand what their paid sick leave includes.

What is Not Wrongful Termination?

There are certain cases where it is not considered wrongful termination, and an employer cannot be held liable for certain actions. These include:

  • When the employee is fired for another reason that is not related to the disability, the employer cannot be held liable for wrongful termination if the reason is valid and deals with the employee’s work.
  • if the employee’s disability is a threat to the workplace, the employer could seek to terminate the employment relationship with the employee.

Get Help From Experienced Employment Attorneys

Our employment attorneys will work to make sure you are compensated for your lost wages as a result of wrongful termination. There are different strategies our attorneys take when determining a wrongful termination. For example, our attorneys may negotiate a fair compensation package against your employer. Another strategy our employees may take is filing complaints against the employer to state labor departments.

Our experienced attorneys at Heidari Law Group have offices in major cities in California and Nevada. Offices include Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Irvine, and Sacramento. Because a non-compete agreement has specific requirements, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced employment attorney to make sure you are compensated fairly and seek the justice you deserve.

We work with our clients diligently to understand their concerns and look into their employment contracts to determine what rights they have. If you are getting into an employment contract, call our experienced attorneys to look into your contract. If you are a business owner seeking to hire employees, it is crucial to seek the advice of an attorney to better determine what clauses you should add. Our attorneys are experienced in several types of business and workers compensation lawsuits. If you or someone you know has been fired for calling in sick, contact our Los Angeles attorneys for a free consultation today.

***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.

Sam Heidari

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