Can I Be Fired for Having an Eating Disorder?

Can I be fired for having an eating disorder?Our law firm deals with a great deal of cases where employees were discriminated against, and our goal is to seek justice for those employees who have faced unfair situations at the workplace. Although most employers follow the law, some employers do not, and in those cases you will need a lawyer to sue to get you the justice that you deserve. When it comes to your continued employment or application process, there are really only two things to which your employer should pay direct attention and base decisions on – qualifications and the ability to perform the essential job functions. Everything else is irrelevant and, if considered, can land the employer in some legal trouble. “Everything else” simply refers to qualities about a person which cannot legally be discriminated against.

Some employers use their own bias to conduct their business and make decisions based on an applicant’s or employee’s job status based on these things which are protected by law because of centuries of discrimination and offer equal opportunity to everyone regardless of things like race, color, religion, sex, age, country of origin, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, and even disability. An employer must treat all of their employees equally, lest they wish to face the power of the law. If an employer discriminates against any of the protected items listed above, that employee may have the legal grounds to file a lawsuit against their employer and collect damages for discrimination – something the courts take very serious in the state of California.

Having a disability does not disqualify you from contention if you are qualified and are able to do the essential job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation. The law that protects people with disabilities is called the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990 and does not allow for employers to make business decisions off the fact that one of their employees has a disability if that employee continues to perform adequately. So what about people with eating disorders? Eating disorders currently reside in a strange gray area in the eyes of the law, meaning that some people with eating disorders will qualify for protection under the ADA while others may not. So can you sue your employer if you are fired for having an eating disorder? We help people answer questions regarding eating disorders on the daily. Examples of such questions include:

  • Can you be fired for being underweight?
  • Can you be fired for having anorexia?
  • What if I was wrongfully terminated for being anorexic?
  • What if I was fired or let go for having bulimia?
  • Can I sue my employer if he discriminated against me for having an eating disorder?

The lawyers at California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group help people like you every single day!

What Is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is classified “by a persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behavior that results in the altered consumption or absorption of food and that significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning.” So things like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are all considered eating disorders, and each of them has more specific definitions. So whether or not you can be fired for having anorexia depends on the effects that the eating disorder has on your body.

What Laws May Help Protect People With Eating Disorders?

The ADA is a law that was signed in 1990 in order to deter discrimination against people with disabilities. A “disability,” as defined by the ADA, is a mental or physical impairment that affect’s an individual’s ability to perform major life activity; having a record of such impairment; or assumption of having any impairment. So for example, if the impairment you have made you lose the use of your legs, but the essential job function of your occupation does not require the use of your legs, then that means your employer cannot take action against you – even if you request for reasonable accommodation. It also means that an employer cannot assume that you have an impairment and act based on that assumption; that, too, is considered discrimination and may give you the right to sue your employer.

So what is reasonable accommodation? Reasonable accommodation is the changes in the workplace which an employer must make if a disabled employee cannot perform the essential job functions. For instance, if you need a ramp or special desk to do what you need, then the employer must install the changes. If the employer refuses to provide reasonable accommodation, they are discriminating against you and opens them up for a lawsuit. The only time an employer can refuse is if it can show that such accommodation would force the business to undergo undue hardship – small businesses with limited resources are generally exempt if they can show it’d cause such hardships, bigger corporations are expected to carry on and meet the general requests of the disabled employee.

Are Eating Disorders Covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act?

So are eating disorders covered under the ADA? Well, the answer is not as easy and “Yes” or “No.” Simply having an eating disorder does not automatically qualify you for protections under the ADA. Remember, a person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that affects a major life activity, and the eating disorder may give rise to health issues which are covered by the ADA and so would grant the employee protections under the ADA.

What If I Was Discriminated Against?

If you are covered under the ADA, your employer cannot discriminate against you for having that eating disorder if you can perform the essential job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation. You are also protected if you require reasonable accommodation – things like modified work schedule, being allowed to leave for counseling, flexible work environment.

So if your employer discriminated against your eating disorder, like being anorexic, or being bulimic, you might have the option to file a lawsuit against your employer and collect any damages to which you are entitled. Before you can sue, however, you must first file a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the federal employment government agency which enforces the ADA – or the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) – the state employment agency which enforces the ADA state-wide and offers more protections. Our Los Angeles lawyers have helped people in your situation and they can help you too.

Once you file your charge, you may request a “right-to-sue” letter which then gives you the green light to file a lawsuit against your employer. It is recommended that only request this letter once you are fully prepared to go to court as you only have 90 days to take action.

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