Can you be fired for missing work due to a medical condition when you have papers filled out and signed by doctor?

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Can you be fired for missing work due to a medical condition when you have papers filled out and signed by doctor?

I have been treated for fibromyalgia ever since 08/08. I had been working at my job since 2007. I was having to miss work due to flair-ups. My doctor filled out every paper that they told me I needed filled out. I was fired on 02/11/11. I was told I needed another note from my doctor and I told them my appointment was on 02/21/11 and that was the soonest I could get in. I want to know how they can fire me when I had everything signed and filled out. I feel that I was wrongly fired due to a medical condition that I cannot control. What can I do?

Asked on March 1, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should consult with an employment attorney who can evaluate your potential case in detail and advise you as to whether you have a good case, what it might be worth, and then take action on your behalf, if appropriate. There are reasons to think you might not have a case, however.

Here are the issues:

1) An employer cannot discrminate against an employee due to a disability, but *not* every medical condition rises to the level of a disability. To be a disability, it must be a fully medically recognized condition that is beyond your control. I believe there is still some controversy over fibromyalgia and it's not universally recognized as a condition (rather than a cluster of symptoms); even if it is, since there are ways (medication, diet, exercise, etc.) to mitigate it, it might not be considered a "disability" under the law. If it's not a disability, the law does not require the employer to take any steps in regard to it, and the employer may fire you if you are excessively absent or not doing your job.

2) Even if you have a disability under the law, the employer is only required to provide "reasonable accomodations" and only if you ask for them. So if you required extra time off, you'd have to ask for it in advance, and there'd have to be some reasonable way to accomodate it--adjusting your schedule ot let you get to the doctor, or, if you are simply working less, possibly cutting you pay; the employer would not be required to keep you on at full salary if you're regularly missing alot of work and not making up that work somehow.


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