Can an employer request that you only take bathroom breaks during your break time or else provide a doctor’s excuse?

UPDATED: Jul 29, 2011

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Can an employer request that you only take bathroom breaks during your break time or else provide a doctor’s excuse?

I work at a plasma center. We are allowed 2/15 minute breaks without punching out. I am a diabetic. I regulate my diabetes with food control. I typically take 1-2 bathroom breaks outside of my 2 15 minute breaks. I was asked to take bathroom breaks only when I am on breaks or I will need to get a doctor’s excuse to be able to take a bathroom break. I am a 56 year old female with diabetes. I usually have to go the the bathroom within an hour after I eat. The only way to avoid this is not to eat at work. Can the company I work for ask this of me? I feel so humiliated.

Asked on July 29, 2011 Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The good news is that the company may very likely have  to allow you to take the additional or "off schedule" bathroom breaks, since doing so very likely would constitute a "reasonable accomodation" to your disability (diabetes).

The bad news is, they probably can request that your doctor provide a note, explanation, etc. of when and why you need additional or differently scheduled breaks. An employer is not obligated to take an employee's word for the fact that she needs an accomodation or has some medical condition; they are entitled to some proof or evidence. You have a legitimate medical condition shared by millions of Americans; you should not feel embarrassed by it.

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 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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