Can a company make you take weeks off at a time without pay?

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Can a company make you take weeks off at a time without pay?

I’m a truck driver. I have sleep apnea. I can’t drive and work for 14 hours a day. I turned down a load that would of taken 14 to 16 hours to do. Now since then the company has made me to stay home an I’m not getting paid for any of it. I’ve been off work for over 2 weeks now. They are trying to get me to quit. They have to cover themselves because of my health problems.

Asked on August 10, 2011 Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A company cannot discriminate against someone with a disability, though not every medical condition automatically rises to the level of protected disability. Generally, the condition must not be treatable and must have a significant impact on daily life to be considered a disability. If your condition is not a disability, then the company may take any action against you that it wants for turning down a load.

Also, while a company cannot discriminate, it's only respondisibility is to make "reasonable accomodations." A reasonable accomodation is one that does not cost the company too much money or be too disruptive. So a key issue may be how many loads or routes the company has which would  not require you to drive more hours than you feel you safely can. If they do have a reasonable number of other loads or routes in the area(s) you could drive in, they may have to give you the chance to take those...alternately, if most routes or loads would exceed your comfort zone about length, they might not have to go out of their way to find routes or loads for you.

As you can see, the facts--the nature of your condition, how it impacts your work, and the work the company has available--are all critical issues. You should consult with an employment law attorney to discuss the situation in depth.


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