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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 13753
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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I was currently terminated from my place of employment when

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I was currently terminated from my place of employment when I was approved for leave because my mother was going through surgery and had a doctor's excuse due to her surgery. I was to return April 1st but I called in the night of March 31st because my mothers doctor wanted me to stay with her longer but on April 1st I was terminated for that reason. Did this employer have the right to terminate me for this reason with a doctor's excuse and with the doctor requesting for me to stay with my mother?
Thank you for your question.

Just to clarify - when you say leave, do you mean you took FMLA to take care of your mother before/after her surgery, or you were just given time off by your employer?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

My district manager stated he approved time off. Never advised me if it was FMLA but when my unemployment was approve they stated my employer never mentioned they approved a leave of absence they just stated I was on sick leave.

Thank you for your reply.

So then it sounds like it was not FMLA, just that they gave you time off. Unfortunately, the answer is yes -an employer can terminate you in such a circumstance. This is because New Mexico, like most every state, is an "at will" employment state, meaning absent an employment contract or union agreement, which may give an employee more rights, an employer can terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, or even no reason at all, so long as it is not done for an unlawful reason (e.g., because of your race, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin).

Regrettably, just because you were granted time off through March 31st does not mean the employer has to extend you the courtesy of an additional day - even if you have records or notes from a doctor stating that it is necessary. If they had the expectation that you were to return to work and you failed to do so, they can terminate you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I understand the "at will" situation but by New Mexico law I properly called in prior to my shift. I gave 6 hours in advance and I was a General Manager for this company I spoke to my district manager the morning of April 1st and he said my call in was accepted then no later than 3 pm the owner sent me a email stating I was termintated for an un approved return from leave of absence which was miss communicated to the owner.

That does not change my answer. Regardless of whether you called in properly, and the employer made an error in failing to report the situation, because New Mexico is an at will employment state, they don't need a reason to terminate you. The fact that the fault is theirs is therefore, unfortunately, irrelevant. The termination is still considered lawful.
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