Can you be fired or disciplined if you miss work due to an illness?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2022 | Employment Law |

Being sick is a scary proposition on its own, and the possibility of missing work for medical treatment or recovery from an illness can be very stressful, particularly, if you don’t know what rules and regulations may protect your employment. But employees do have some protections under state and federal law.

Depending on the circumstances, your right to seek accommodations and take time off because you or a family member suffers from an illness may be protected by one or more federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). At the state level, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act provides protections for individuals with a disability.

Many individuals hear the word disability and assume that they are not protected by these laws. However, the term disability is defined broadly and covers a wide variety of medical conditions. Under the ADA, you have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Under certain circumstances, this could include chronic conditions such as anxiety, depression, heart conditions, diabetes, migraines, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, or lyme disease. Moreover, the ADA protects you if you have a history of such a disability, or if an employer believes that you have such a disability, even if you don’t.

Moreover, the FMLA does not require an employee to establish that they or a close family member has a disability. Instead, the question is whether the underlying medical condition qualifies as a serious health condition. The FMLA defines serious health condition as “an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves: inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or continuing treatment by a health care provider.” Thus, most medical conditions, as well as temporary illnesses and injuries, can be covered by the FMLA.

In addition to these statutory protections, your employer may provide its own medical leave policies, which may grant you additional rights.

These overlapping policies, rules and regulations can be confusing. Knowing your rights helps insure you get all the benefits you are entitled to under the law. Rather than letting your employer unilaterally decide what rights you have, contact us for a consultation.

Whether it’s a request for an accommodation and/or medical leave, we’re here to help employees understand and enforce their rights. A denial by your employer shouldn’t be the end of the matter.

Call us today to learn more. 412-492-8975

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