If Iwas fired from my job due to stress-related illness and might not receive unemployment benefits, what can I do?

UPDATED: Oct 27, 2010

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If Iwas fired from my job due to stress-related illness and might not receive unemployment benefits, what can I do?

I got fired from my customer service job due to absenteeism. It wasn’t habitual call-off;, it was random. My mother was in the hospital somy manager twice allowed me to use vacation time but they still counted against me. The other 3 times was due to illness. I have borderline personality disorder. I haven’t cut or tried to hurt myself since I was in college but I do get paranoid and easily stressed so often that I get headaches and have stomach problems. I haven’t been to a doctor since I was in college because lack of money. I applied for unemployment but I don’t think I will get it.

Asked on October 27, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

There may be nothing you can do. Whether the call off was habitual or not, if you were abseent withouot prior notice  and approval, an employer is entitled to terminate you for it. An employer cannot discriminate against someone with a disability, but there are limits to that protection. First and foremost, the employee MUST make the employer aware of the disability and ask for an accomodation--the employer does not have to be a mind reader and guess at it. If the employee does not let the employer know and ask for the accomodation prior to termination, the employer will probably not be liable for terminating the employee. Second, there must be some reaonsable--and that includes economically reasonable--accomodation possible for the employee, such as changing his or her hours, duties, etc. If an employee simply wants more paid leave time, for example, it's not clear that the employer would have to allow that, or allow even substantial amounts of unpaid leave if it can't be scheduled in a way that doesn't disrupt business. Finally, an employee can't self-diagnose a disability, but needs something medical to back it up--but you say you haven't been to a doctor for a long time.

If it turns out that you were therefore fired validily for cause--absenteeism--then you could be denied unemployment compensation.

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