Monday, October 24, 2011

Terminated for Absenteeism? You May Still Be Entitled to Unemployment Benefits

An employer, of course, can terminate a Maryland employee for being absent too many times (so long as none of the absences are protected by the FMLA, ADA, or Maryland Flexible Leave Act).  But, are you entitled to unemployment benefits if you are terminated for excessive absenteeism?  The answer is:  it depends.  If your absences are not your fault and you timely notified your employer when you would be out, then you are likely entitled to unemployment benefits. 

I just represented an employee who found herself in exactly that position.  She was terminated for being out of work too often.  Each time she was absent she gave her employer proper notice.  It was undisputed that she was out of work for a chronic medical condition.   Over the employer's objections, the employee was awarded benefits. 

A summary in the Maryland Department of Labor's decision digest summarizes the law:

  • The claimant was absent from work on an authorized maternity leave. Due to unexpected medical complications, the claimant was not able to return to work as early as anticipated. The claimant kept her employer informed of her medical condition. The employer would not hold the claimant's job until she could return to work after her six-week checkup. Absenteeism due to illness is not misconduct. The claimant was discharged, but not for any misconduct. DuBois v. Redden and Rizk, P.A., 71-BH-90.

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