Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot discriminate against or fire workers who have a physical or mental impairment. As noted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the ADA also prohibits discriminating against employees experiencing a medical condition.
When workers require time off to seek medical treatment, an employer must provide an unpaid leave of absence of up to 12 weeks under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Employees who need time off to care for an ill or injured family member also have the right to take 12 weeks off and not lose their jobs.
Discrimination may lead to a termination
If an employee with a medical condition or disability requests a reasonable accommodation to assist in performing his or her tasks, an employer must provide it. Employers may not harass or discriminate against an employee who requests an adjustment or needs time off to treat a condition.
Harassment may include jokes or rude comments concerning an employee’s illness or impairment. Firing, demoting or reducing an ill or injured worker’s pay may classify as discrimination. If an employee proves his or her termination reflects a discriminatory act, an employer may have violated federal and California labor laws.
Jury finds employer wrongfully terminated an ill employee
A husband-and-wife team working and living as on-site apartment managers sued their former employer for wrongfully terminating them after the husband’s cancer diagnosis. According to MyNewsLA.com, a Los Angeles County jury’s verdict concluded that the employer fired them in retaliation for taking time off to seek treatment that included surgeries and radiation. The jury awarded the couple both compensatory and punitive damages.
Federal laws prohibit employers from harassing, discriminating or wrongfully terminating employees because of an illness, injury or disability. Employees have a right to request a reasonable accommodation and keep their jobs when experiencing a temporary or permanent impairment.