Can I be fired for not working over time due to my mental illness?

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Can I be fired for not working over time due to my mental illness?

I am working for a small company only about 40 people work here. I am paid
hourly but sometimes things break over the weekend and I am asked to work on
the weekend. I am not the only one that can fix the broken things but I am
often pressured into working anyway. This is now happening at least once a
weekend, I am having to lose one day off because of this.

The problem is I have bipolar, generalized anxiety disorder, and
schizoaffective disorder all officially diagnosed which means I need a set
schedule to really succeed and down time to rest my mind and be ready for the
next work week. I am finding this overtime to be breaking me down, I am
getting increasingly depressed, I am having thoughts of suicide and self harm
again which I have not had to fight off in a long time.

I want to stop working overtime but I am worried if I tell them no I will be
fired. If I am fired will I have an course of legal action that I can take? My
boss is known for firing people and getting out of paying unemployment. I am
looking for another job but for now I just cannot do this overtime anymore and
I am hoping I can find something that helps me feel at least safe that if they
fire me I will be okay.

Asked on October 7, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Utah

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

We will assume that you have a verifiable diagnosis for your condition(s). If so, and you have made the employer aware that you need a set schedule and reasonable time away from work (and can provide doctor verification to that effect upon request), then you would likely have a disability-based discrimination claim if the employer fires you for not working overtime or on weekends or otherwise not as set on your schedule. That is because the law (e.g. the Americans with Disabiltiies Act, or ADA) requires employers to make "reasonable accommodations" to employee disabilities (including mental illness). If, as you say, there are other people who can fix things, then it is reasonable to allow you out of the requirement to come in on weekends, since they have other reasonable options (i.e. bring one of their other staff in to do this). A failure to make a reasonable accommodation for you would support a discrimination claim, which you could bring with the EEOC.


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