Posted in Employment, Essential job functions and disabilities, Reasonable accommodation

Question from Reader:

 

Can my employer fire me because of my MS?

 

Good afternoon!

You asked whether your employer can terminate you because you have MS. The short answer is no, of course he can’t – but proving it can be very difficult.

Most employers will not go up and tell you they’re firing you because of your MS. The conversation is usually more along the lines that you are working too sloppily or too slowly, and perhaps causing others to take some of your load.

If this is the first you’ve heard of the problem, you might question why it has not been mentioned on previous performance evaluations or in workplace conferences. Although it is usually not illegal to fail to give employee warnings, it might violate some employer policies and it often casts the employer in an unfavorable light.

But let’s say that you agree that you are working slower than you would like to, and it’s because of your MS fatigue. To avoid having the above conversation at all, you might want to approach your employer early on and talk about a “reasonable accommodation.” One of the most important parts of the ADA is the requirement that upon request, an employer must work with an employee to determine if some modification of the job can be made, which will still allow the employee to perform the “essential functions” of the job and which will not cause the employer an “undue hardship.”

While these terms sound awfully technical (and they are!), they are the key to understanding both employees’ rights and employer obligations under the ADA. For example, maybe all you need is an opportunity to rest for 2 or 3 minutes every hour. You might want to consider having a conversation with your employer, requesting that this or some similar adjustment be made.

Before you do, however, I would strongly recommend that you discuss this with your attorney. There are both advantages and disadvantages of putting your MS out there like that, and it should be a strategic decision. Below is some information that will help.

Good luck!

https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/ada18.html

Nothing in this website is intended to be legal advice.

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