Q: I have pneumonia and was told by my doctor to take time off from my job. I called my employer and was terminated. What?
I was terminated after telling my employer that I needed the time off to recuperate.
Texas is an employment at will state. Typically, unless an employee has an employment contract, or is employed under a collective bargaining agreement through a union, the employer can modify or terminate the employment at any time with or without cause for any non-discriminatory reason. However, an employer generally cannot alter or terminate employment for prohibited discriminatory reasons (such as a disability), or in retaliation for certain protected actions (such as whistle-blowing).
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination. However, under the ADA, temporary conditions that are minor don't qualify as disabilities. For example, colds, the flu, and sprains generally won't qualify as disabilities, assuming they don't have serious, long-term consequences. Depending on the length of time off and the severity of the temporary illness, pneumonia may be considered a disability.
If you wish to bring suit against your former employer, note you must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days after the adverse employment action took place (in this case termination). You should contact an employment attorney to discuss your situation.
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