When an employee misses a day of work, it’s commonplace to believe that the employee will be fired for this offense. This is because, in most circumstances, an employee can and will be fired for missing a day of work without providing his or her employee with adequate and proper notice. However, there are certain circumstances under which employers cannot legally terminate an employee for missing a day of work. Below, we outline under which circumstances an employee can and cannot legally be fired for missing one day of work.
At-Will Employment vs. Contract Employment
Oftentimes, the ability to legally terminate an employee for missing one day of work turns on whether the employee is an at-will employee or a contract employee. If an employee is at-will, this means that an employee may be terminated at any time and for any reason that is not protected by state or federal law. So, if an at-will employee misses one day of work without prior authorization to miss work from the employer, that employee may be legally fired unless that employee misses work because they have a protected illness, disability, or obligation that causes him or her to miss work.
A contract employee, on the other hand, is an employee whose job duties and responsibilities are set forth in a contact. In the employment contract, there will be provisions that outline the circumstances under which the employee may be terminated. Usually, this provision will state that the employee may only be fired for “just cause.” “Just cause” may include missing one day of work without prior authorization. However, the employment contract may have more stringent termination terms specific to the employment, which will have an impact on whether or not that specific employee may be fired for missing a day of work.
Protections for Illnesses
Regardless of whether a person is an at-will employee or a contract employee, that person may not be terminated for missing a day of work if the employee, or an immediate family member of the employee, has an illness that is outlined in the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and requires the employee to miss work. Under the FMLA, an employee who has worked for at least 1,250 hours or one year for an employer that has a minimum of 50 employees may take up to 12 weeks off of work to treat a serious medical condition or to take care of an immediate family member that has a serious medical condition. A serious medical condition is one that requires hospitalization or inpatient care, treatment of a chronic or permanent condition, pregnancy, or a condition that requires the employee to take three or more days off of work.
If an employee or a family member of the employee has a serious medical condition and the employee must take time off of work to treat the condition, then that employee may not be fired for taking off of work if the employee provides the employer with notice of the condition. There are certain circumstances when employees cannot give prior notice to their employers that they must miss work to treat a serious medical condition. When this occurs, employees cannot generally be fired for missing work and failing to give their respective employer prior notice of the serious medical condition. However, it is the responsibility of employees to give their employers notice of the days that they must take off of work to treat the condition as soon as is reasonably possible.
Protections for Disability
If an employee has a qualified disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the employee may not generally be terminated for missing work if the reason is to treat an illness related to the qualified disability. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. For instance, if the employee works for an employer that has less than 15 employees, then they are not afforded this protection provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act and may be terminated for missing one day of work without prior authorization to do so from his or her employer, even if the employee missed work because of his or her disability.
What to Do if You are Fired for Missing One Day of Work in New Jersey or Pennsylvania
If you are fired for missing one day of work in either New Jersey or Pennsylvania, it is prudent to seek the legal advice of an experienced labor and employment law attorney regarding your termination. An experienced labor and employment attorney can assess whether you may have a viable legal claim against your employer for wrongfully terminating you based on the facts and circumstances surrounding your termination and can help you litigate that claim if you do have a viable wrongful termination claim against your employer.
Contact a Cherry Hill Labor and Employment Law Attorney for a Consultation About Your Wrongful Termination Claim in New Jersey and Pennsylvania Today
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated from your employment by an employer, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey and Pennsylvania labor and employment law attorneys at Begelman & Orlow, P.C. represent clients who have been wrongfully terminated from their employment throughout both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Cherry Hill, NJ, Camden, NJ, Philadelphia, PA and Conshohocken, PA. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (866) 627-7052 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 411 Route 70 East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034, as well as offices located in Conshohocken, PA.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.