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  1. #1
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    Can an employer force you to use vacation time for a surgery or doctor appointment?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? NJ

    My husband is a pharmacist for a large retail pharmacy chain. He's been with the company for over 20 years and has unlimited sick time.

    He is having a medical issue that has required him to see specialists and now need surgery. His employer has refused to allow him to use a sick day for a scheduled doctor appointment, because they say he should schedule it on his day off. Problem is, they have forced their pharmacists to split shifts so he only gets one day off a week and every other weekend. This makes scheduling appointments on days off nearly impossible, especially with a specialist.

    With his scheduled surgery, they are telling him that he must use vacation time for the day of the procedure and then can only use 3 sick days after that and then file for a leave of absence for any more time needed to recover.

    Is this legal? We feel helpless and at their mercy. We are trying to decide if we should take legal action, because it does not seem right and the company can not provide these policies in writing to us.


    Last edited by Rphwife; 10-30-2017 at 02:13 PM.
  2. #2
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    Yes it is legal. Under FMLA they wouldn't even have to allow the first three days without burning vacation.


  3. #3
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    Unlimited paid SL? This is truly bizarre.


  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by PayrollHRGuy View Post
    Yes it is legal. Under FMLA they wouldn't even have to allow the first three days without burning vacation.
    Thanks for the quick response! So you can't use any sick time unless you are out of vacation time??


  5. #5
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    What the employer allows would be what their policy is. FMLA is what they have to do.


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by eerelations View Post
    Unlimited paid SL? This is truly bizarre.
    I know, right!!! And maybe unlimited isn't quite the right word to use.....he can only use so many consecutive sick days before he has to go back to work or file for LOA, but has no limit on the number of times he can do this.... so that's why I used the word unlimited.

    He had cancer 6 years ago and was not given a difficult time about using sick time for specialists....maybe it was 1-2 times a year for a few years that he used a sick day. And when he had surgery for his cancer, I think he used a week of sick time, then went on leave/short term disability.

    Now, he has the same sick time but he is never allowed to use it?!?


    Last edited by Rphwife; 10-30-2017 at 02:41 PM.
  7. #7
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    The Feds have made it abundantly clear that they have no interest whatsoever in how paid time off of any kind is managed. While some states have begun implementing laws regarding the use of sick time, NJ is not one of them. However, some municipalities within NJ have established certain requirements - you can investigate whether there are any such requirements where you are.

    If there aren't, then however the employer chooses to apply it is what goes.


    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rphwife View Post
    I know, right!!! He had cancer 6 years ago and was not given a difficult time about using sick time for specialists....maybe it was 1-2 times a year for a few years that he used a sick day. And when he had surgery for his cancer, I think he used a week of sick time, then went on leave/short term disability.

    Now, he has the same sick time but he is never allowed to use it?!?
    He IS allowed to use it, he just has to use his vacation time first.


  9. #9
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    You feeling helpless because of this difficult medical situation and dealing with employment is very understandable and stressful.

    Sadly your employer has not lived up to their previous good conduct when dealing with a serious illness.

    Now they are being sticklers, but that is their right, though dumb.

    Perhaps when your spouse is recovered you could consider defecting pharmacy chains, because experienced senior pharmacists are in demand.


  10. #10
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    Oct 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by xylene View Post
    You feeling helpless because of this difficult medical situation and dealing with employment is very understandable and stressful.

    Sadly your employer has not lived up to their previous good conduct when dealing with a serious illness.

    Now they are being sticklers, but that is their right, though dumb.

    Perhaps when your spouse is recovered you could consider defecting pharmacy chains, because experienced senior pharmacists are in demand.
    Thank you for the very understanding response!! Trying to figure out the law/company policies on top of dealing with the medical issues has been very stressful and we just can't seem to find the answers. You have hit the nail on the head though.....this company has had a rapid decline in their treatment of their employees in all aspects, not just with sick time and it is very unfortunate. Thank you again for taking your time to help me understand the laws!!


  11. #11
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    NJ has state paid disability, too. So his recovery from his surgery should be covered under that.


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