Calling in sick to protest

How likely is it that the teachers in Wisconsin who call in sick and then go to protests might be punished for doing so?

IOW, have there been cases in the past where participants have been punished for sick-outs… in Wisconsin or other states?

What’s punished. They already have to pay for a substitute teacher if they can’t make it to work for a sick day or other day off. Any profession out there besides teachers do this? Do you mean something like jail time or what?

It’s pointless to try to punish someone soley to prove a point. And usually you have to be out a few days before a doctor’s note is required, so they are technically within the “rules” (most likely).

My understanding is (though I might be wrong, especially about this particular case where I don’t know wny details about the employment conditions of Wisconsin teachers) is that employers usually reserve the right to demand employees calling sick to produce a doctor’s note whenever they (the employers) decide to demand it. They simply usually don’t demand it for a simple one-day absence, but they could. That would make it possible for the education boards to require doctor’s notes and take action against teachers if they fail to produce one; the action would probably range from monetary penalties to outright sacking; after all, not showing up for work for no good reason is a clear violation of the employment contract on the employee’s side (a jail sentence, OTOH, would be unlikely - there is nothing criminal in not showing up for work).

Whether it would be politically advisable for Wisconsing authorities to do so is, of course, another matter.

Even where you’re not required to produce a doctor’s note, you’re not allowed to simply take a day off. You may call in sick, and you won’t have to produce a note for that, but if you stay away from work for no good reason you are outside the rules, no matter whether your employer requires you to provide evidence of illness in the form of a doctor’s note.

Cite? I’ve never heard this!

I have a relative that is a teacher. Their contract requires them to pay an amount for a substitute teacher to replace them when absent. This would be a school district contract. I will not say where they teach.

This is a broad topic of what “sick leave” allows. Different places have different rules.

The primary intent is controlling absenteeism. The intent of sick leave is recognizing that sometimes a person is ill and cannot pre-coordinate being out. Thus a certain amount of acceptable missed days, where acceptable may relate to disciplinary action, or just to compensation.

Some places have redesignated “sick leave” as “personal days”, where it doesn’t matter the reason, just that you have a set number of them. Sometimes this merges sick and vacation into one pool.

Disciplinary action will be determined by the actual policies of that district, as well as the awareness of the administration of the teacher’s actual purpose.

If there is no policy of checking doctor notes and no way to confirm their presence at protests, then they probably won’t be disciplined. If they are suspected of being at protests without confirmation either way, and their policy allows, they may require a doctor’s note, though really how many times have you had a cold and just stayed home without calling a doctor? I know I’ve had those days.

If that teacher is spotted on the evening news, that may be grounds for disciplinary review.

How did Reagan get away with firing all the air traffic controllers? I thought they all just got sick and never officially went on strike?

I don’t know how common this is.

It was never the case when I was with the SLCSD from the mid 90’s until 2002, and I haven’t heard other educators that I have met from around the country ever mention this.

Subs were just a part of our benefits—When I was sick or on vacation, a sub was taken care of by the district…

My wife was a teacher when her union did a sick-out during contract negotiations. Here’s how it worked. It wasn’t Wisconsin, so their details might be different.

If an employee under contract calls in sick, the school district had the right to demand a note from the doctor. Normally they didn’t do it because so many people use sick days when their kids get sick or daycare falls through, but they had the right to demand it.

If the employee couldn’t produce some justification for taking a sick day, it went on the books as an unauthorized absence. That would either be charged as a personal day (personal days were supposed to be approved in advance), docked a day’s pay or be subject to disciplanary action – up to and including termination of their contract. In our state, public employees were forbidden by law to strike, so they could be fired AND prosecuted.

IIRC, Reagan gave the air traffic controllers a couple of days and then ordered them to return to work or produce a doctor’s note. Those who didn’t were summarily fired.

I recall some union in the news in Canada that had a sick-out. The administration started going through the list in alphabetical order trying to punish the offenders. However - what do you do with a doctor’s note? A doctor cannot accuse you of lying, so if you say, “I was sick last week and I need a note” he’ll write one. The employer cannot say “you MUST see a doctor the day you are sick”. I’ve always thought that in Canada, where I pay for everyone else’s health care, if an employer wants to tie up a doctor producing an unnecessary note for something like a cold that does not require a doctor visit, that employer should pay the cost of the doctor visit. (Some doctors here do charge a cash “extra” for a note, since it is not something convered by health care.)

If you really were sick, how do you prove it?

The moral of the story is if one side decides to make it a major case and be difficult, I’m sure the other side has no difficulty being equally obstructive in return. You don’t gain anything by creating a confrontation unlss you have the authority and intestinal fortitude to take the confrontation to is ultimate conclusion. If you fire all the air traffic controllers, you better explain how you will replace a whole country worth in 3 days. Ditto for evry teacher in the state. (A variation on “if you pull out a gun, you better be prepared to use it”)

Cheeseheads: What’s the latest over there? Are most of the teachers feeling better and returning to class? Any stories of teachers being questioned about their sickness by administrators?

Somewhat related question… whats the latest on the people in white jackets handing out doctor’s excuses? Were any of them proven to be doctors?

How much do the proposed changes effect school administrations? It may be that many in the school district are complicit. When you have this kind of universal opposition to a law, enforcing the rules may get difficult.

There are people making open records requests trying to get lists of absent teachers, their reason for absence, their income and benefits. They won’t say what they want the requests for when asked. The next escalation will be open record requests on who has been asking for the teachers information.

I didn’t pay attention to if the number of absent teachers went down or up. Their union had told them to be sure to show up for work.

Teachers in Madison returned to work on Tuesday.

Friday is an in-service day for Madison, so I would expect it to be one of the biggest protest days yet if the fight carries on since the teachers will not have classes.

Disciplinary action will most likely depend on the outcome of the ongoing dispute.

I would never take a job with this requirement.

Same here. That’s a very risky clause in a contract that could potentially cost the teacher thousands, in addition to medical expenses and foregone income, when ill for an extended period.

Bumping for an update after two weeks…

Well, the school district is checking the excuses… but I doubt there’ll be much fallout.

They’ve got over 1,000 of them, and it’d take a vindictive school official or medical board to pursue it.

The largest health provider wisely covered themselves: “UW-Health is investigating the incident, and has said that any doctors who passed out notes were acting as individuals, not on behalf of the organization”.

And. yes, some were real docs, but they’ve got a pretty good defense, too: “Doctors on the square defended their actions, insisting the notes were legitimate, and said recipients of the notes were evaluated for symptoms including stress”.