Can an employer request that you only take bathroom breaks during your break time or else provide a doctor’s excuse?

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Can an employer request that you only take bathroom breaks during your break time or else provide a doctor’s excuse?

I work at a plasma center. We are allowed 2/15 minute breaks without punching out. I am a diabetic. I regulate my diabetes with food control. I typically take 1-2 bathroom breaks outside of my 2 15 minute breaks. I was asked to take bathroom breaks only when I am on breaks or I will need to get a doctor’s excuse to be able to take a bathroom break. I am a 56 year old female with diabetes. I usually have to go the the bathroom within an hour after I eat. The only way to avoid this is not to eat at work. Can the company I work for ask this of me? I feel so humiliated.

Asked on July 29, 2011 Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The good news is that the company may very likely have  to allow you to take the additional or "off schedule" bathroom breaks, since doing so very likely would constitute a "reasonable accomodation" to your disability (diabetes).

The bad news is, they probably can request that your doctor provide a note, explanation, etc. of when and why you need additional or differently scheduled breaks. An employer is not obligated to take an employee's word for the fact that she needs an accomodation or has some medical condition; they are entitled to some proof or evidence. You have a legitimate medical condition shared by millions of Americans; you should not feel embarrassed by it.


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