Can an employer request a light duty note for a PRN employee?

Is an employer allowed to require a no restrictions return to work note for a PRN/part time employee after personal scheduled time off? I'm having a breast augmentation and have scheduled time off with ample recovery time. A coworker overheard me on the phone about it and now everyone is concerned I will need light duty (which I will not) and I have 11 days (counting weekends) off before I return. I have not officially told a superior that my time off is for surgery but I was told yesterday that I will not be allowed to return without a note from my surgeon saying I'm cleared to return to work with no restrictions and no light duty. Can they ask that of me when I have not asked to be put on light duty or when I have not asked for medical leave? I'm not a full time employee, I'm part time and make my own schedule.

2 answers  |  asked Mar 7, 2016 7:34 PM [EST]  |  applies to Florida

Answers (2)

Phyllis Towzey
How awful that your coworker has spread your personal business all over the office after overhearing your phone call. Since you did not request medical leave, in my opinion your employer does not have the right to demand a "fitness for duty" note from your physician. However, I'm not sure what you have to gain by refusing to provide one. Certainly you can take a stand on this and refuse to provide a doctor's note on principle, but if your employer then refuses to permit you to return to work, you will then have to retain a lawyer to send letters and threaten a lawsuit - and to what purpose? The employer is not asking for any medical details from your surgeon, just a statement that you are able to return to work. I suspect the employer is concerned that if you return too soon after surgery you could suffer a workplace injury which would then fall under workers comp. My advice is to go ahead and get the note.

posted by Phyllis Towzey  |  Mar 8, 2016 07:47 AM [EST]  [ Best Answer - selected by asker ]
Arthur Schofield
This is a gray area. There is no clear right that the employer has to this information, but you have no clear right to continued employment there. Put differently, employer can ask you for this and if you decline, it could terminate your employment. At that point, you could have a "perceived disability" claim, but I suspect you'd rather have your job than a claim. Not sure what your hours are there, but you could have some rights under the FMLA (even for elective surgery) and this would protect your time away and give you the right to return, but upon return the employer can require a clearance from your physician. I recommend you speak with counsel to go into greater detail, but hope this helps.

posted by Arthur Schofield  |  Mar 8, 2016 07:40 AM [EST]

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