If I was given 2 weeks notice because of my medical condition, what are my rights?

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If I was given 2 weeks notice because of my medical condition, what are my rights?

In a nutshell, I brought in a doctor’s note stating that I should be sitting while preforming my duties for up to 6 months with a reevaluation after 3 months. My employer gave me a chair and I was doing my duties to the fullest without causing any problems. Yesterday, I was given 2 weeks notice to get

terminated because they no longer want to accommodate me by letting me sit. What options do I have to fight for my rights? The full story is as follows. I work as a front desk agent at a large hotel, a job that is typically done while standing. A little more than a month ago, I brought in a doctor’s paper

asking to let me preform my duties while sitting as I have chronic pain in both my legs and lower back. The management gave me a chair to sit on and informed me that they have no problem accommodating me. But the HR didn’t seem to agree with the management and informed me that I need another note stating how long I would need the accommodation for which was not stated in the original doctor’s note. Then, 2 weeks ago after another test, the doctor gave me a note stating that I

would need the accommodation for six months. He also informed me that I would be re-evaluated after 3 months. When I brought in the note, once again, the management were supporting me but HR informed me that they cannot accommodate me for that long. They gave me an option between transferring to another department and apply for other positions or

Asked on May 5, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You may have suffered illegal disability-based employment discrimination based on what you write and may have a viable case for reinstatement or compensation--IF they are not offering you a comparable (pay and level, regardless of whether you like it) alternative job. (See below.)
The law requires "reasonable accommodations" to disabilities or medical conditions; a reasonable accommodation is one that lets you do your job and which is not too disruptive or expensive for the employer. Providing you a chair and letting you sit if you can do the job that way--which it seems you can--would be a reasonable accommodation; terminating you or forcing you out instead of instead of letting you continue that accommodation would very likely be illegal discrmination and you could contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a complaint.
Note, however, that they may transfer you a different position or location, even it doesn't relate to your career path (the employer does not have to take any consideration of your career goals) so long the pay and level of responsibilities is roughly comparable: employers still have the discretion to manage their businesses and so may reassign, etc. you (the same way they can reassign any employee at any time) so long as they do not lower your pay or relative level of responsibility/authority because of your medical condition or needs. And that in turn means that they *can* give you a "take this job or quit" option so long as the offered replacement job is approximately comparable (again, whether or not *you* want that position--your preferences are irrelevant) and end your employment if you won't take the job. In this case, there would be no legal claim against them, since they offer you a reasonable alterntive. It also doesn't matter if their choice seems to make no sense (e.g. if you are able to do the current job), since employers may reassign, etc. employees at their will generally, even successful ones and even if the change is unnecessary, silly, or frankly stupid.


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