Can an employee be denied a raise for missing work due to medical reasons?
With so many companies recruiting and hiring, employers may want to reward employees with a raise for staying onboard. But must employers give raises to everyone? What if a company has a newer employee who missed a lot of work last year for various medical reasons, and because of all the missed work time, no raise would be given this year? Is it okay for the employer to deny this person a raise? It depends. If this employee belongs to a protected class, the employer could be at risk of an illegal discrimination claim.
However, employers generally are not obligated by law to issue raises; it’s typically at their discretion, if:
- there is no contract in place guaranteeing a raise, and
- there was no illegal discrimination at play.
In other words, the employer couldn’t make employment decisions (such as issuing raises) based on an employee being in a protected class due to their race, sex, religion, age, disability status, etc.
If the employee’s leave time was protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or was off work as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), then there could also be an issue.
But if all employees who missed work for other, non-medical reasons didn’t get raises either (i.e., were treated similarly), then the employer should be justified in this decision.
The bottom line is, there are many factors for employers to consider before issuing raises.