If Iam 58 years old and have several health problems, can my employer make me work more than 40 hours a week?

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If Iam 58 years old and have several health problems, can my employer make me work more than 40 hours a week?

I know that I cannot work more than 40 hours a week without extreme exhaustion. I am not in good health but it seems not to matter. I know my limitations. Can I be fired because of this?

Asked on January 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you most likely could be fired if you don't work as much as  your employer wants. In the absence of a contract (including a union agreement) setting or limiting your hours, your employer can require you to work *any* number of hours it wishes you too, subject only to its obligations to pay you for all hours worked, if you are hourly, and to pay overtime if applicable, if you are a non-exempt employee.

If you have an actual "disability," then it may be the case that the employer has to accomodate you in terms of hours, if it is reasonable for the employer to do so. However, general bad health or several minor conditions do not constitute a disability; a disability is serious condition with significant impacts on your ability to work and/or do the normal functions of life, which cannot be alleviated by diet, exercise, and/or medicine. (Think of blindness, a paralyzed limb, epilepsy, some neulogical disease/issues, etc. in terms of what might be a disability.) If you believe you may have a disability, you should consult with an employment law attorney to explore your possible rights further; but if you "merely" have several health problems that cause a lack of endurance, then it is likely that your employer can require you to work more than you feel comfortable doing.


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