Can my employer legally fire me for having a mental illness?

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Can my employer legally fire me for having a mental illness?

I am manic depressive and on medication. My doctor is currently trying to balance my meds. I am required to take a week off of work so this can happen safely. Can my employer fire/replace me in this given week that must be taken due to my illness?

Asked on March 27, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There are 2 laws that must be considered here. The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects your employment for up to 12 weeks while you are off work due to a "serious health condition", assuming that you qualify (you can check with your HR department for details). However, this law only protects your right to take leave without jeopardizing your job. It does not protect you from discrimination on account of your condition itself. Another law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibits discrimination on account of a either a physical or mental disability and requires a reasonable accommodation of the disability. That having been said, your mental health problem may not meet the definition of "disability". Finally, if you have available PTO (sick days or vacation time) or a contract/union agreement that gives you the right to take this week off, then you have protection as well.         


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