Decision Day: Will Charles Pugh Stay Or Go?

DETROIT (WWJ) – Will he stay or will he go?

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr on Tuesday denied City Council President Charles Pugh’s request for a four-week medical leave — saying Pugh has until 5 p.m. Wednesday to report to work or resign.

This all comes after Pugh missed several council sessions over the past two weeks and shut down his Facebook and Twitter accounts. President Pro-tem Gary Brown said Pugh has been out of the office for the past 10 days.

But can the emergency manager legally deny someone a medical leave if they are really sick? WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton said the answer isn’t exactly black and white.

“Generally speaking, no employee has a right to a medical leave. However, under both federal and state laws, employers are required to give an unpaid leave of absence, especially for a serious health condition,” he said.

Even so, Langton said a hang-up would still exist for Pugh.

“Those laws only apply to private workers, not elected officials,” he said. “Some employers do provide short-term disability insurance policies when workers need time off because of medical conditions. However, again, the city of Detroit does not have such a policy for elected officials.”

Pugh received the most votes in the last election and is not seeking re-election this year. He earns about $76,000 per year. If he steps down, only six council members will remain. Kwame Kenyatta resigned last week and President Pro-Tem Gary Brown announced his resignation on Wednesday.

MORE: Charles Pugh’s Absence ‘An Elephant In The Room’

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