Is it illegal to fire someone for calling the National Suicide Hotline?

I was recently let go from a full time apprentice position. It required 60-80 hour weeks, and I was doing fine up until about a week ago when my depression got worse. I was not and am not suicidal or self injuring, but since my workplace neglected to get me the help I needed, I called the NSH to gain assistance in finding a free counselor nearby. I discussed this call with my roommate, saying she shouldn’t tell anyone because I was taking care of it and not in any danger. The next day I was “let go” because they were “worried” about me and wanted me to “get the help I needed.”

Asked on June 9, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you actually have a condition which would qualify as a disability (e.g. you are diagnosed with serious depression or are bi-polar) and you told your employer that you had such condition, they might be precluded from terminating you--they would be required to make "reasonable accomodations" to allow you to work despite the disability before terminating you.

However, in the absence of an actual disability, if you did not have an employment contract which protected your employment, you were an employee at will and could be terminated at any time, for any reason--including a concern that you might be dangerous to yourself or others, or that your work performance was lagging or might start to lag due to emotional issues. If you had a diagnosable condition or disorder, it would be worthwhile to consult with an employment law attorney to see if it would qualify as a disability and therefore afford you protection under the anti-discrimination laws.


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