Is it legal to fire someone for a medical condition?

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Is it legal to fire someone for a medical condition?

I work at a doggie daycare. I suffer from pack pain which my old manager was informed of. After she left the new manager cut my hours form 30 to 10. Now she does not want me working there because of my condition.

Asked on November 29, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If your medical condition qualifies as a disability--which not all do; while there is not an absolutely firm definition, generally a "disability" is one that involves a significant and permanent (or at least long term) impairment of function, one which cannot be substantially controlled by medication, diet, exercise, therapy, etc.--then the employer may not discriminate against you for having it. That means you may not be fired, for example, just for having the disability.

However, the employer is only required to make "reasonable accomodations" to the job to enable you to work there--such as by making small changes to how the job is done, or providing some assistive technology (such as computer screens which magnify for  the sight impaired). You must be basically able to do your job. If you can basically do your job, you can't be fired for having back pain--again, assuming it is serious enough to qualify as a disability. If the pain prevents you from doing the job, however, it may be legal to terminate you--you don't have to be employed if you can't work.

From what you write, you may wish to consult with an employment attorney in detail about your condition and situation. Good luck.

 


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