Can I be fired for needing mental health treatment

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can I be fired for needing mental health treatment

I am being threatened with my job is I have to be hospitalized again. I live with bi-polar disorder and other mental health issues. I love my manager but she said she has called HR about me more than once. I’ve been quite open with the people at work. I was hospitalized twice during the past 1 1/2 years for over 2 weeks. I don’t know when I’m going in. I may have control of a couple days or I may not. They may have a say or so notice, they may have no motive at all. If someone calls the authorities or my doctor or therapist made me go it is out of my hands. Apparently HR said they didn’t have to keep me and my manager said she can’t go through this again. I’m going into another episode. Work is hard to begin with, the stress and everything, but I’ve been doing it for over 5 years. I always show up and always give 100%. I can’t help this illness. Can I be fired for going into a hospital? Can HR tell my boss she doesnt have to keep me? My mental health is the sole reason. Also, what if I had sickle cell anemia instead and was hospitalized when the weather changed? Why do they see mental health different. I am trying to stay well. I am doing everything I can. I almost died the last time. I’m capable of doing my job; performance isn’t really the issue other than them saying I move slow sometimes, however I also have OCD and want everything perfect and correct. I do more than nearly everyone there. I can’t afford to lose my job simply because I have a disability and am in the beginnings of another episode that will probably make me need another hospital admission when I get suicidal to the point I feel I have no choice.

Asked on October 7, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

An employer may be terminated for any illness (physical or mental) related absence unless one or both of the following are true: 
1) You have and use sufficient paid time off (PTO), like sick or vacation days, to cover your absence.
2) Your emplloyer is covered by the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which means that it has at least 50 employees within a 50-mile radius, you are eligible for it, which means you worked there over a year and worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months, the circumstances of your need for leave qualify for FMLA leave (look up the rules for FMLA on the Dept. of Labor website), you request FMLA leave, and you total leave in a year is not more than 12 weeks.
Essentially, there is no right to miss work for any reasons without using PTO or FMLA for the absence. Otherwise, it would be an excessive or unauthorized absence and you could be terminated.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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