If I work for a non-profit organization as part of a paid internship and was recently involved in a car accident, what are my rights if I cannot now work full-time?

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If I work for a non-profit organization as part of a paid internship and was recently involved in a car accident, what are my rights if I cannot now work full-time?

At first I was not cleared to go back to work but my employers said I could be fired for “extreme absences” so I talked to my doctor and he allowed me to work a few half days (4 hours) each week. This is still not good enough for my employers and they have now told me that if I can’t work full-time that I will be let go. I have only recently started this position so I have no idea how to fight this. I feel like since it’s an office we should be able to figure something out. I would love to work but don’t know my rights (if any). I am currently finishing a Master’s Degree program. Can you help??

Asked on November 12, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There most likely is nothing you can do unless your employer was covered by FMLA leave and you, based on your employment history, were eligible for it and use it--you can check the criteria to see if your employer and you are covered by going to the U.S. Department of Labor website. If you can and do use FMLA leave, you cannot be fired while on the leave (be advised that it is unpaid leave). However, unless you are using, and therefore are protected by, FMLA lease, you may be terminated for not being able to work the required hours. While  employers do have to make "reasonable accommodations" for employees with medical conditions, reasonable accommodations are those which allow the employee to do his/her job and work all the hours of his/her position. Employers are not required to allow employees to work less than the normal hours for their position, and can terminate employees who cannot or do not work enough hours, even if the reason is a medical issue.


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