What to do if I was fired for having epilepsy?

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What to do if I was fired for having epilepsy?

I started Wednesday at a sandwhich shop. I finished my shift went home and had the next day off. The following work day I had a seizure and was in the hospital; I called work and informed them of what happened. Later that day I went to work gave them my doctor’s note. The next work day I was fired. I had followed my instructions properly and did as my employers told me to. I wasn’t within bounds to be fired for my work ethic, so I firmly believe it was directed towards me being an epileptic.

Asked on June 20, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You may have been illegally terminated. The law does not allow people to be fired simply because they have a disability. However, if the disability prevents them from doing their job or makes it unsafe to employ them, the employer could still terminate them; that's because the law's requirement is to make a "reasonable accomodation" to allow the employee to work. A reasonable accomodation is a change in how the job is done or provision of assistive technology which allows the employee to do the job, which is not too expensive or disruptive to the employer to provide.

The question is then a factual one--could you do your job safely and effectively while having epilepsy? If the answer is "yes," you could not be fired simply for having it. From what you write, there is reasonable chance you faced illegal discrimination against the disabled, since it does not appear there is any evidence that your condition interfered with work; it would be worthwhile for you to meet with an employment law attorney to discuss the situation at length, to see whether you have a case worth pursuing. Good luck.


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