Can I be fired for needing mental health treatment?
Question Details: I am being threatened with my job is I have to be hospitalized again. I live with bi-polar disorder and other mental health issues. I love my manager but she said she has called HR about me more than once. I've been quite open with the people at work. I was hospitalized twice during the past 1 1/2 years for over 2 weeks. I don't know when I'm going in. I may have control of a couple days or I may not. They may have a say or so notice, they may have no motive at all. If someone calls the authorities or my doctor or therapist made me go it is out of my hands. Apparently HR said they didn't have to keep me and my manager said she can't go through this again. I'm going into another episode. Work is hard to begin with, the stress and everything, but I've been doing it for over 5 years. I always show up and always give 100%. I can't help this illness. Can I be fired for going into a hospital? Can HR tell my boss she doesnt have to keep me? My mental health is the sole reason. Also, what if I had sickle cell anemia instead and was hospitalized when the weather changed? Why do they see mental health different. I am trying to stay well. I am doing everything I can. I almost died the last time. I'm capable of doing my job; performance isn't really the issue other than them saying I move slow sometimes, however I also have OCD and want everything perfect and correct. I do more than nearly everyone there. I can't afford to lose my job simply because I have a disability and am in the beginnings of another episode that will probably make me need another hospital admission when I get suicidal to the point I feel I have no choice.
An employer may be terminated for any illness (physical or mental) related absence unless one or both of the following are true:
1) You have and use sufficient paid time off (PTO), like sick or vacation days, to cover your absence.
2) Your emplloyer is covered by the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which means that it has at least 50 employees within a 50-mile radius, you are eligible for it, which means you worked there over a year and worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months, the circumstances of your need for leave qualify for FMLA leave (look up the rules for FMLA on the Dept. of Labor website), you request FMLA leave, and you total leave in a year is not more than 12 weeks.
Essentially, there is no right to miss work for any reasons without using PTO or FMLA for the absence. Otherwise, it would be an excessive or unauthorized absence and you could be terminated.