If you have a disability or a work injury and want a reasonable accommodation such as time off, you must have a doctors note!

I hear it every day from fired and injured workers in El Paso, Texas. They have a work injury or non-work injury and they need some time off to recuperate — they ask for a reasonable accommodation like a few days off or a leave of absence, do they have to have a doctors note? In the recent case of Delaval v. PTech Drilling Tubulars, L.L.C., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9683 (5th Cir. 2016), the Fifth Circuit held that before they even get to the issue of if the employee had a disability or that the request for time off was a reasonable accommodation, the employee was required by law to bring in a doctor’s note stating that the time off was needed. Time off for work and non-work injuries is always a difficult issue for injured workers. If they are eligible for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) then they might be able to get the time off, but again they must have a doctors’ note. Even if they are not eligible for FMLA or if they have run out of FMLA they may be entitled to time off under the Americans With Disability Act (ADA) if their injury qualifies as a disability and they can prove the time off is a reasonable accommodation. These are always tricky issues and you should always consult with a board certified employment lawyer to learn what are your rights. But as the Delaval case tells us, you always need a doctor’s note. Something that is not always easy to get within the time limits set by your employer.

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