What are my rights if I’m out due to a mental illness?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my rights if I’m out due to a mental illness?

I’ve been dealing with a mental illness of depression and anxiety and recently started seeing doctors. I emailed my employer a follow-up on things I was working on and what my condition entails. I received an email and phone call back stating that my email was deemed inappropriate and volatile and now I’m given 5 days to

get a return to work form from my therapist or I’m terminated.

Asked on May 18, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you did send an inappropriate or volitile email, your employer can require evidence that you are fit to return to work; while an employer must make "reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability (including mental illness) that does not extend to requiring them to have someone disruptive, hostile, or potentially even dangerous at work--that is more than a "reasonable" accommodation requires. So if you did send an inappropriate email, your employer may take actions based on that--including not letting you return if you can't that it would be safe to do so.
Also, if your company is not covered by FMLA (has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius) and/or you are not eligible for it (did not work there at least a year; did not work at least 1,250 hours in the last year), you are not entitled to time off for a mental illness: except as per FMLA, your employer does not need to let you miss work, even for health reasons. If you miss more work than you have sick and/or vacation days to cover without using FMLA leave, you will have unauthorized absences and could be terminated for that reason.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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