Work discrimination?

My manager cut my hours from 40 to 15 because he stated that I have panic attacks and unfit to work. I’ve never been diagnosed with panic attacks or ever had one at work. I’ve been overwhelmed but never had a panic attacks and have never given reason to show that I’m unfit to work. I feel as though hes created a false diagnosis and is now discriminating against it.

Asked on December 25, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is discrimination if you suffer some negative or adverse work consequence (like reduced hours) due to *having*, or a belief that you have, some medical condition or disability, including an emotional or psychologial issue.
However, it is not discrimination to take some action against you due to your actual behavior or conduct at work, because that is not discriminating on the basis of a characteristic: it is responding to what you actually do at the job.
So the issue is, if you have been "overwhelmed," have you been having difficulties at work? Not getting all work done or having poor performance? Have you acted at work in a way that distresses coworkers or customers, or disrupts the workplace? Have you been late getting to work or coming back from breaks, or left work early?Etc.
If you have been having any difficulties or performance issues at work, then the manager may cut your hours in response to them.
However, if you have not been having actual issues or problems at work and the manager has just somehow come to believe you are having panic attacks and is taking issue because of what he/she perceives to be a mental health issue, that may be illegal discrimination. In that case, you may wish to contact the state's equal/civil rights agency and/or the federal EEOC about possibly filing a complaint.


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