Posted: July 6, 2017 

Employee absenteeism has the potential to implicate multiple legal issues.  Using the below case example, how would an effective attendance policy work under this situation (answer to follow soon):

Becky Barista has worked for a local coffee shop for the past several years.  Becky was the epitome of a good employee, always showing up early to work and taking on additional responsibilities during her shifts.

One day, during the busy morning rush, Becky was preparing a customer’s vanilla latte when she accidentally burned herself on the espresso machine leaving her with severe burns on her right hand.  True to her nature, Becky attempted to power through her shift, but was ultimately forced to leave work early to go to the emergency room for medical treatment.  However, due to the severity of her burns, Becky rushed out the door without telling anyone where she was going.  Upon arriving to her next shift, Steve Supervisor, Becky’s boss, informed Becky that, although Becky was a model employee, Becky would be written up and have a disciplinary note in her employee file for leaving work without authorization. 

Seeing her spotless record tarnished, Becky’s performance began to slip. Becky started showing up late to work and on several occasions missed work entirely without notifying her manager beforehand.  Steve Supervisor, looking to Becky’s history at the coffee shop, first let her attendance issues slide.  Around this time, Becky became pregnant, resulting in her missing an additional amount of work to attend various doctors’ appointments.  During the pregnancy, Becky also became very moody and depressed, which caused her not to sleep at night and to be late for work even more often.  Ultimately, Steve confronted Becky about her attendance issues.  Becky became defensive saying that she had missed work to attend doctors’ appointments arising out of her severe burns.  Not only this, but Becky announced that she was pregnant and would likely continue to miss work due to complications.  Although the coffee shop did not have any formal written employment policies, Steve decided that this was the last straw and terminated Becky’s employment. 

Should the coffee shop owner be worried about potential liability?  

What should the supervisor have done, or was firing Becky the right result?


This article is published by the Masud Labor Law Group, and is intended as general information only.  This article is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion, as such advice may only be given when related to specific fact situations.  Questions or comments concerning this article should be directed to the Masud Labor Law Group, 4449 Fashion Square Blvd., Ste. 1, Saginaw, Michigan, 48603, (989) 792-4499.  E-Mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). ©Masud Labor Law Group 2011.  All rights reserved.  Reproduction of this article in whole or in part, without express permission from the Masud Labor Law Group is prohibited.

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