Can I be fired for sick days because of my chronic condition

Can I be fired for sick days because of my chronic condition

By: Dr Alex Robber

Just what the laws cover and what they do not cover

Despite of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, I have missed much work.  May I get fired for missing so many days while my employer knows that I am chronically ill? In the U.S., there are many regulations that restrict the right to continue working through chronic illness.

The FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are federal statutes, and they apply nationally. Specific state laws, too, can apply. You should also be aware of what rules the company has on unused sick days and disciplinary action if any.

Suffering from Severe or Chronic Fibromyalgia

If you’re unfortunate enough to have been diagnosed as either a serious or chronic condition sufferer, then you may find it more difficult to perform regular day-to-day activities such as housework, childcare, or work.

If this is the case, your doctor may have sent you to a consultant who can help with a pain management regime. These pain control services are intended to help the sufferer deal with the discomfort and even the loss of movement that may also result from this discomfort. Like we said before Fibromyalgia is a disease that has no cure and every symptom is looked at in turn to try and decide best how to cope with it.

Continuing to Work if You Have Fibromyalgia

When many patients first find out that they have fibromyalgia (and this is usually long before their doctor diagnoses it), they experience a variety of symptoms such as pain, headaches, and fatigue that may cause them to have time off work. If that is the case it is important to contact your doctor as soon as possible so he can try to relieve the pain.

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Fibromyalgia sufferers may continue to function, but they must embark on a pain management plan and also function out a routine regime that fits them as well as their symptoms. For example, it is important to rest when you can and not to overwork yourself. This not only causes stress, but stress can also trigger what is known as a’ flare up.’

The FMLA

Although it is a federal law, the FMLA only covers certain enterprises. If all three of these obligations are fulfilled, you and your place of work are covered:

  • You’ve worked there for at least a year
  • You’ve put in at least 1,250 hours in the past year
  • Your employer has 50 or more employers within a 75-mile radius

Intermittent leave

In addition to extended absence leaves, such as maternity leave, the FMLA requires you to take what is called temporary leave for a serious health problem. That’s what will come under your occasional sick days, as long as they’re linked to your chronic conditions. Is your health condition deemed “significant,” legally? Along with pregnancy, hospitalization or long-term care-requiring illnesses, the Department of Labor finds a illness severe because it is a chronic disorder that causes periods of impairment.

In addition to extended absence leaves, such as maternity leave, the FMLA requires you to take what is called temporary leave for a serious health problem. That’s what will come under your occasional sick days, as long as they’re linked to your chronic conditions. Is your health condition deemed “significant,” legally? Along with pregnancy, hospitalization or long-term care-requiring illnesses, the Department of Labor finds a illness severe because it is a chronic disorder that causes periods of impairment.

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Talk to Your Boss

When you’ve been diagnosed as a sufferer with Fibromyalgia, it’s worth talking to your boss, team leader or even managing director. He or she should be aware of your condition and its consequences, particularly if they may cause you to take time off work.

It’s important not to think about talking about your illness to others in the workplace; most employers would be able to help, and it also helps them to cover for decreases in the workload if you have to take an unexpected time off work.

The ADA

For the purposes of the ADA, the legal concept of “disabled” includes a physical or mental disability that significantly restricts a significant activity in life (i.e. walking, communicating, and learning). Any company with at least 15 workers must comply with the ADA’s provision of fair accommodation for disabled workers, as long as you are able to perform the basic functions of the job. For starters, I worked as a waitress when I was in the restaurant policy at the college.

The restaurant policy

Restaurant policy said I had to hold everything on a tray by hand rather than on a plate. When I developed carpal tunnel disease and wasn’t able to hold several items with one hand anymore, my boss got me tiny trays. I even had extra breaks so I could lie down and stretch my arms and change shifts, so I didn’t work back-to-back days.

The rooms were working out. If they had not, then I would have been let go. For fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, rational accommodation may involve items like having written orders instead of verbal (because of cognitive dysfunction,) a stool for tasks normally performed standing or shifting the office to a quieter place.

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Allowing you enough sick time is part of a fair arrangement, but only the point where you can still perform the basic functions of the job.

References:

  • Can I Be Fired for Sick Days Due to Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS? Know What the Laws Protect–And What They Don’t By Adrienne Dellwo via Verywell Health

More Resources

Here’s more information on the FMLA and ADA:

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