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Employment Blog

Protected Employee Must Notify Employer of Need for Time Off

Authored by Dean R. Dietrich
Posted on May 31, 2017
Filed under Employment

A recent decision in the Northern District of California highlighted the importance of employers applying a consistent rule that employees must notify the employer if they are unable to report to work, even if the employee suffers from a disabling condition.  In a recent decision, the Federal Court Judge held that a Company properly terminated an employee who suffered from several disabilities because the employee did not follow the company call-in policy that required an employee to call in before 9:00 a.m. if they were unable to report to work on a particular day.

In this case, the employee suffered from several disabilities which sometimes interfered with his ability to report to work.  The employee received permission from the Company to take time off when necessary because of the disabling conditions but was told he must notify the Company if he was taking time off.  On the first occasion the employee failed to notify the Company, the Company gave the employee a final warning and made it clear the employee must notify his manager before 9:00 a.m. if he was taking off work on that particular day because of his conditions.  Several weeks after this written notice, the employee failed to report in when he was taking off and did not report in for a period of four days.  As a result of this failure to report in, the Company terminated the employee.

The Federal Court dismissed the claims brought by the employee when it was shown the employee was on the internet and accessing various sites during the time that he was off work so he could not justify his claim he could not report in to the Company that he would be off work due to his conditions.  The Federal Court held that the Company had the right to terminate the employee, especially after the employee acknowledged he understood the call-in requirements that were applicable if he needed to take time off because of his disabling conditions.

This case is a reminder that a Company needs to clearly communicate with employees regarding its policy for calling in and being absent from work.  If a Company enforces this policy uniformly and consistently, the Company is in a position to successfully address the situation where a disabled employee is simply away from work without any type of notice to the Company.