Do I have a chance at collecting?
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Do I have a chance at collecting?
I quit because I mentally and emotionally could not handle it anymore. Last year I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia. It has caused severe pain on the right side of my face and endless doctors appointments and medications. Since then at work I have been talked about because my appearance hasn’t always been the best some days as I can’t touch my face to wear makeup or I only got an hour of sleep. I did miss some work but used my sick time. At the beginning of this year, I called off using my sick time and was punished and suspended for 3 days without pay for using my sick time to early in the year and was told they wanted to set an example. There is staff that has made up lies that I’m on drugs and talk about me. The owner of the company has showed me texts and told me about the
rumors. Stress causes flare ups in my face and I finally could not take it anymore as I told my bosses I couldn’t. Also, last year and employee threatened my life in texts. Do I have a chance at collecting?
Asked on April 22, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 4 years ago | Contributor
The law accepts that work can be stressful, even horrible: that is part of "employment at will." Since an employee has no right to a given job, they have no right to complain of working conditions or stress, and if they leave due to stress, it is a voluntary resignation--that is, no unemployment.
However, there is an exception to employment at will: certain kinds of discrimination or harassment are specifically outlawed. Among them are harassing or discriminating persons with disabilities, and employers must make "reasonable accommodations" to a person's disability to let them work, so long as such accommodations, or changes, are not too expensive or disruptive to the employer.
Criticizing your appearance if it is a result of your condition, "talking about" you, harassing you due to your condition, etc. may well be illegal disability-based discrimination, and you may have a viable legal claim. Also, spreading lies (making false factual statements) about you, such as that you are on drugs when you are not, may be defamation, and you may have a legal claim against the coworkers or employees who are doing that. Threatening your life is of course also illegal, and you may have a claim against the person who did that, too. (Because defamation and threats are not part of your fellow employees' jobs, the employer is not liable for them--but the people committing defamation or making threats may be laible personally.)
There are several claims you may have, including the very important disability discrimination/harassment one. You should speak with an employment lawyer about your situation; legal action may be worthwhile.
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