Can a Company Require an Employee to Provide Notification Before Seeking Medical Treatment?

In short, no. Employers cannot required employees to give notification before seeking medical treatment. The issue arose in court after a FedEx employee alleged that he was fired for such a lack of notification. In the September 24, 2014 decision, a federal judge ruled the policy was effectively illegal.

According to reports, the employee had notified supervisor that he was suffering from back discomfort. As a result, the employee was scheduled for “light duty” for the duration of week. The employee subsequently scheduled an appointment with a physician’s assistant, who provided him with a note requesting his employer, FedEx, keep him on light duty until he could receive a complete evaluation. However upon receiving the note, FedEx fired the individual.
Although FedEx claimed that the then-employee violated company policy by not notifying his supervisor ahead of time that he was seeking medical treatment, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division determined that the company’s policy violated the employee’s right to seek medical treatment without interference.

As the Court opined, “[By] definition, imposing any prerequisite an employee must satisfy before seeking medical treatment ‘interferes’ with the employee’s right to seek and obtain medical treatment and therefore runs afoul of the [state] Workers’ Compensation Act.”

In New York State, workers’ compensation laws cover nearly all New York employees. If you are injured on the job, it is important that you seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible. While you are not required to notify your employer that you are seeking medical attention, New York workers’ compensation law does require the injured employee to notify their employer about the injury and the way in which it occurred within 30 days of the accident causing the injury.

The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.

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