Is it legal for an employer to discriminate against a medical condition with a doctor’s documentation?

An employer is harassing my mother for her
medical condition, which causes her to
frequently urinate. Her doctor faxed
documentation noting that she must take
frequent restroom breaks, but HR claimed to
not receive it 3 different times. After physically
turning in her medical documents a fourth time,
HR promptly denied her claim, stating her
medical condition wasn’t ‘serious’ enough.
They are threatening to dock her pay for her
restroom breaks, or possibly terminate her.
Can her employer do this? Thanks.

Note She works in Kentucky.

Asked on September 13, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Federal labor law (e.g. the ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act) requires that employers make "reasonable accommodations" to employees with provable or verifiable medical conditions or disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is one that is not too expensive or disruptive to the employer--like more frequent bathroom breaks (though the employer can require they be short--i.e. no going to the bathroom, then getting a smoke, socilizing, etc.). Your mother's requested accommodation appears to be reasonable, and she has provided documentation of her condition and need for the accommodation: it appears the accommodation should be granted, and that the employer is violating the law by not doing so. Your mother should contact the federal EEOC to file a complaint.

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