Do I have a case against my employer?

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Do I have a case against my employer?

My job accommodated my wife and I with her severe anxiety; we had to be on the same site and same shift. That was fine until they just didn’t want to accommodate us anymore. I have a previous site supervisor who was in a meeting about the branch office accommodating us. On my last day at the site that my wife and I were at, we were told that if we transferred we could be accommodated, so we asked for the transfer. I was assigned a new site but then was told that the branch couldn’t accommodate us anymore. I was held in a office for 5 hours being told that if I left the room I was going to be fired. I have been mentally scared due to the account manager yelling at me, being hostile and threatening me.

Asked on April 14, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Your wife may have a case--you write that she has "severe anxiety," not that you do, so any claim related to harassment, discrimination, or a lack of a reasonable accommodation would be her claim, not yours. She would have a claim if
1) She has a medically/psychiatrically diagnonsed mental condition;
2) The employer was aware of her diagnosed conditon;
3) You being on the same shift, at the same site with her was, according to a medical professional, necessary for her (i.e. not just that it made her feel better, but a doctor said it was better for her); and also
4) It was reasonable, or not too disruptive or expensive, for the employer to have you both on the same shift at the same site. This means that if their staffing needs changed and they did not have room for or need both of you at the same  time, same location, they would not have to do this: an employer would not be required to keep one of you, for example, on a shift or at a location where that person was simply not needed for the job. The law doesn't make them maintain an unnecessary position for an employee's benefit.
If all the above criteria are met, your wife might have a claim for failing to make a reaonable accommodation to a disability (her condition) and should contact the EEOC to file a complaint.
As to you: if you did not have a diagnosed condition, then there is nothing legally wrong with the employer yelling at you, threatening your job, or being hostile to you. (It is certainly unfair and unprofessional, but the law does not generally enforce fairness or professional conduct.) Employment in this country is employment at will: an employer may be as hostile, etc. as it likes to any employee so long as doing so does not constitute discrimination against or harassment of the employee due to his or her race, color, age 40 or over, disability (including mental/emotional conditions), sex, or religion.


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