Can I get fired if I refuse mandatory counseling throughwork if I’m already seeing a counselor?

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Can I get fired if I refuse mandatory counseling throughwork if I’m already seeing a counselor?

I recently had a problem with a fellow employee harassing/bullying me at work. After a month of documenting and informing the supervisors of what was going on and nothing being done about it they informed and encouraged me to go to the boss about this issue (it hasn’t been the first time they had problems with her). So I did and we had a meeting with me, the supervisor, and the boss but not the other employee. They brought up my bi-polar condition and the fact that I was not taking medication,  and then asked if “I was the problem?” I told them I’ve been going to counseling for about 2 months now because of these problems I’m having with this other employee I lost 10 lbs and I was becoming physically ill (throwing up, irregular menstrual cycle, loss of sleep, and loss of appetite). I felt threatened, bullied,and harassed. Now they made it mandatory that I go to counseling with the EAP Program but I am already going to counseling once a week with someone who knows my situation. But they said that I will be fired if I don’t go to the counselor through the EAP program. Can they really fire me?

Asked on September 11, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

Ryan Scott Nalley / The Law Offices of Ryan Scott Nalley

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Though this is complex situation, the answer is likely NO, not unless you are a threat to yourself or others and they can prove it is business necessity.  You do not indicate that your bi-polar effects your ability to do your job in any way.  If that is the case, it is violation of the ADA and Illinois Human Rights Act to refer you to go to therapy.

If I read the question correctly, it is their neglect that is causing you problems, not your bi-polar.  So, I am pretty much re-iterating the above, but if your decsription is accurrate, it is likely a violation, especially if it could interfere with your current therapy.  Moreover, I would argue that they should compensate you at your rate of pay during the therapy session if they are making you do it, and it is your time--which I'd probably lose, but I would be right.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to consult with an employment attorney; this is a complex situation. On the one hand, employers may not discriminate against the disabled, and your condition may qualify as a disabilty for this purpose. On the other hand, though, employers are only required to make reasonable accomodations. If your bi-polor condition is causing you to either be disruptive at work or to not be able to do your job effectively, it may be reasonable to require you to do the additional counseling--an employer is not required to employ someone who can't do the job or who is disruptive to the workplace. Therefore, the correct answer here will depend on the specific facts and circumstances, and I urge you to talk with an experienced employment law attorney. Good luck.


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