Can my work fire me for IBS

I work at a big name retailer, they are
currently investigating me for ‘stealing
time’ they say I’m stealing time
because I use the restroom after I clock
in so I don’t use it when I’m on the floor,
I have a doctors note I provided them
saying to make acomadations for my
condition, they told me if I need to take
extra breaks or extra time not to worry
about it, now they are possibly going to
fire me for having IBS, is there any
legal action I can take if they do
terminate me?

Asked on May 1, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

They can't fire you for having IBS, but they can fire you for its effect on your work, if the accomodations you require or are taking for your condition are not "reasonable." That is the employer's obligation: to make a "reasonable" accommodation for a medical condition--which means it is NOT required to make unreasonable ones. What is reasonable or not is, of course, more than somewhat subjective: there is no bright line or clear demarcation between reasonable and not. But there are casese which are clearly reasonable: a 10-minute bathroom break every 2 hours, for example. There are also cases that are clearly not reasonable, like an employee losing 10 - 15 minutes out of every hour for the bathroom; that could add up to losing 2 hours a day of work, and an employer is not obligated to retain and pay someone who's only doing 75% of his/her work. So depending on how often and how long you use the bathroom, it may be a reasonable accommodation the employer has to make; or it may be an unreasonable one. 
If you are terminated, speak to the federal EEOC or the state equal/civil rights agency to discuss the situation. They can advise you if, given the facts, you may have a disability discrimination claim and, if appropriate, investigate and take action for you.

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