Medical appointments can be vital, necessary, and life saving. Attending and not being punished for these appointments is important. Equally important-is fully understanding your rights as an employee and utilizing the laws you are protected under.
There are several acts and laws that may apply to you depending on the nature of the doctor’s appointment. So in short, being fired for going to a doctor’s appointment related to a disability may be a violation by your employer. However, we need to deconstruct this statement. Let’s first look at your federal rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. According to the act, if an employer has practiced any unlawful employment practice based on any of these characteristics, then your rights have been violated. Unlawful employment practices include:
- Failing or refusing to hire or discharge an employee
- Discriminate against in relation to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges
- Deprive an employee of employment opportunities or
- Negatively affect the status of an employee
At the most basic level, if you were wrongfully penalized for a necessary appointment, your civil rights may have been violated.
The American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is modeled after the Civil Rights Act and is catered for the protection of individuals with disabilities in all public areas including schools, transportation, the work place, and any other private or public areas that are for the general public. Employers with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations, which are considered a change or changes for the disabled employee so that they can perform their jobs without too much difficulty or expense. So the first step in seeing if your legal rights have been compromised is to determine if you qualify as disabled. Disability defined by the law has three separate qualifications:
- The first is if an individual has a mental or physical disability that limits their ability to take part in major life activities such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning.
- The second is if someone has a history of a disability, such as cancer in remission.
- Third is if a person has a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory.
If any of these descriptions apply to you, then the next step is to see how your medical appointment relates to your disability.
The California Fair Employment and House Act (FEHA) works in conjunction with the ADA. If a company has 5 or more employees, the FEHA applies to them. For mental disabilities, the company must have 15 or more employees. FEHA is a State act that protects unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, and any public accommodations. This act applies to public and private employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies. If you fall under a protected category in California, you are covered by the FEHA as well.
- Race, color
- Age (over 40)
- Disability (mental and physical)
- Sex, gender
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Medical condition
- Genetic information
- Marital status
- Military and veteran status
Successfully identifying as a disabled citizen under these laws means you can move on to the next marker of classifying any kind of reasonable accommodation under the ADA. There are a few ways in which a medical appointment could be categorized as a reasonable accommodation. For example, it is in the obligation of your employer to give you a modified work schedule if you are disabled, meaning altering when jobs functions, both marginal and essential, are performed. In this altering, times may be allotted for a doctor’s appointments if necessary. Further, if the appointment was for a treatment such as surgery, psychotherapy, substance abuse treatment, dialysis, physical or occupational therapy, or rehabilitation treatment, then that would fall under the employer’s obligation to permit you to use any accrued paid or unpaid leave and prohibits your employer from implementing any negative repercussions for attending your appointment.
Although an employer is not obligated to pay you for your time at the appointment, they should let you use up your paid leave before dipping in to unpaid leave time. In addition, a “no fault” policy does not apply to those with disabilities. If you need more unpaid leave in order to fulfill reasonable accommodation, the employer is required to modify their “no fault” leave policy.
If an employer does penalize you in the form of firing for missing work due to reasonable accommodation, they are violating your rights under the ADA. Furthermore, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also covers the employee: it grants 12 weeks of leave per year. The FMLA guarantees their job security when an employee returns from leave. You qualify to be protected under the FMLA if an institution employs 50 or more people. The act aims to protect employees who have taken time off work due to:
- Birth and care of a child
- Placement of a child for adoption or foster care
- Caring for an immediate family member with a sever health condition
- A serious health condition that impair work performance
Medical leave for a disability may fall under this final category listed.
If you feel your current attorney is not maximizing your case value, contact our firm for a free second opinion.
If all categories are successfully met: you identify as disabled, your appointment is deemed a reasonable accommodation, and your employer has fired you because of a medical appointment pertaining to your disability, then your rights have been violated, and you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against your employer. If the state accepts your complaint, possible remedies are:
- Back pay
- Front pay
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Policy changes
- Reasonable accommodations
- Damages for emotional distress
- Punitive damages
- Attorney’s fees and costs
The California Labor Law Employment Group will do everything in its power to help you receive maximum benefits for all of your emotional, physical, and monetary losses. Call or come in to our offices today in order to receive a free consultation. We will pair you with the most qualified lawyers in Los Angeles who specialize in labor and employment cases. The California Labor Law Employment Group Our zero fee guarantees ensures that you do not have to pay a single penny unless we win your case!