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Anxiety and Depression in the workplace

Discussion in 'Medical Leave & Disability' started by kaikens, Feb 20, 2022.

  1. kaikens

    kaikens Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    New York
    So some background. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 15 and I have been on and off meds since then. 12 years. I am 27. I have lost 1 job and left 2 due to depression. The job I lost, I was fired due to absenteeism.I had bad post partum after I stopped breastfeeding and my doctor put me on Zoloft and it made me have panic attacks and delusions. I would cry on the kitchen floor because I had to leave for work and would end up calling in sick.
    It took me a year and a half to find a new full time job. I live with my mom, dad, 6 neices and nephews, my sister, her boyfriend and my son. Its only a 3 bedroom house. Its tight. and stressful. I like my job. I dont want to lose it. however. My depression and anxiety have been bad. I have been nodding off at work and having anxiety while I work. I have been reprimanded 2 times and asked to leave because I was "unfit for duty"
    Thing is, I only felt sleepy because of my anxiety medication.
    I work in healthcare in an Urgent care. I came into work on a thursday, having a panic attack. I was seen by the provider (my coworker) and she gave my hydroxyzine 50 which made me drowsy. I usually take hydroxyzine 25, but i was out and had to wait for a refill. the next thursday I work, I took the meds 2 hours into my 12 hour shift because my supervisor brought me in her office to ask about my mental health. So I got anxious again after having to talk about my situation. I took the 50mg pill and a few hours later I was nodding off again. They asked me to leave because I was "unfit for duty"

    My question. The employer was made aware of my condition, was made aware my meds me tired.
    Can I be fired for sleeping on the job when my employer gave me the medication that made me sleepy?
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    There's your problem. I got depressed just reading that. You need to find a way to get you and your son out of that environment.

    Of course you CAN be fired.

    You might have some legal recourse AFTER you get fired but you'll be pursuing it while unemployed and with no money. It's anybody's guess whether you'll be successful.

    You want to keep that job?

    Get out of that house.

    Might not totally fix your problem but it would be a hell of a good start.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  3. kaikens

    kaikens Law Topic Starter New Member

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    That is the plan. I am going to put money down for my own place when I get my taxes. I just dont want to get fired before that. But its good to know I might have a case if I do.
     
  4. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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    Nope. Falling asleep on the any job, let alone one in healthcare, is not an accommodation that the employer is required to abide by. If you can't stay awake, you should not work.
    Persistent absenteeism, regardless of the cause, is not something that the employer is required to abide by under ADA either.

    Further, not being able to work may disqualify you from unemployment.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  5. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    If you have not already done so, the first opportunity you have, you march yourself down to the HR office and formally request an accommodation under the ADA. Until you have done that, you have no protection regardless of whether your employer knows of your condition or not.

    After you have done that, you need to be aware of several things. The first is that even under the ADA, the employer does not have to accept any behavior that they would not accept in a non-disabled employee. If they wouldn't let a non-disabled employee sleep on the job, they don't have to let you sleep on the job. If they would send home a non-disabled employee who was having a panic attack, they can send you home when you have a panic attack.

    The second is that the disability discrimination laws are designed to level the playing field, not to give you special privileges. They, with input from you and your doctor, are required to determine if there is a reasonable accommodation that will allow you to perform the essential functions of your position to the same standard as anyone else would be expected to; they are not, under any interpretation of the ADA or any other discrimination law, required to accept sub-standard performance.

    Next, they are entitled to medical confirmation of what you are and are not capable of doing. So when they send a list of your job duties to your doctor and ask his or her opinion, that's not only legal, it's what they are supposed to do.

    Finally, if you are unable to perform the essential functions of your position with or without a reasonable accommodation, you can be fired or placed in another position and it will not be considered disability discrimination.

    The above is what the law says. Now, just a personal aside. I am more than a little familiar with depression and anxiety and how debilitating it can be, and despite the fact that I spelled out for you some facts that I'm sure you didn't want to see, I am sympathetic to the situation you find yourself in. It's possible that this is not the right job for you - at least, not right away. It can be very difficult to find the right combination of medication that works for you, and until you do, there's only so much your employer can do. You're in an employment situation where it's imperative that all the staff be at the top of your game, every day, every minute, and if you can't do that, even if it's for medical reasons, the employer can't afford to ignore it. I know it's difficult and might even seem impossible, but I think you need to have a very frank talk with your doctor about what medication you're on, what medication you maybe should be on, and what kind of job would be best for you - and then go find one. I know that's not always something that can be done immediately or easily, but your health is more important than any job and if this is the wrong job for you, then you need to find the right one. For you.
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Your question was answered by your declarative:

    Sleeping one the job is not acceptable by any employer, as far as I know.
    Employees are paid to work, not snooze, nod, or sleep.

    Why do YOU believe your employer can't terminate your services?

    The behavior you've described wouldn't keep a member of a labor union from being terminated, possibly delayed, but not reversed.

    Read what this NY employment law attorney has to say:

    NY Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for an illegal reason.

    But NY wrongful terminations are rare.

    This is because most all New York employees are employees-at-will.

    An employee-at-will can be fired for any reason or no reason at all.

    Fairness is not required.

    The only way to remove yourself from the employment-at-will category is to have an employment contract or company policy manual that limits your employers’ ability to fire you.

    Many firings are based on factual disputes. For example, an employee might be fired for being late to work when the employee actually was not late.

    The employee who was fired for being late may feel that they were fired wrongfully.

    But legally, the firing was not wrongful because companies are allowed to fire employees for any reason at all, even based on a misunderstanding.

    Being “let go” is never any fun, regardless of the reason.

    It is especially painful if the reason was unfair or based on a misunderstanding of the facts. The fact is that it hurts and it is embarrassing, not to mention the stress and worry about finding another job in today’s marketplace.

    Unfortunately, as much as you might want to seek revenge by filing a claim or cause of action against your former employer for wrongful termination, you may not have a leg to stand on because of the employment-at-will rule.

    Often employees feel that they have been wronged simply because they have been loyal to the company for such a long time that they are entitled to more than just a goodbye.

    NY Wrongful termination exists when the termination is unlawful.

    This occurs if the termination breached an existing employment agreement or violated one of the laws that protect New York employees.

    Employees have the right to be protected from the breach of any oral or written contractual agreement between the employer and employee, as well as protection against any illegal acts by the employer.

    For example, if the termination was not in accordance with the outlined procedures in the employment contract; if there was some form of employment discrimination involved regarding age, pregnancy, sex, disability, race, etc. or if there was some form of retaliation for reporting other acts of discrimination or violations of federal securities laws, there could be a claim or cause of action for NY wrongful termination.

    Every case is different and each is determined on the specific details and circumstances of the termination of the employer-employee relationship.

    In NY wrongful termination cases, employees can recover any lost income that resulted from the illegal firing.

    Other remedies such as punitive damages, compensation for emotional distress, legal fees and costs can also be recovered under certain laws.

    For example, an employee fired due to a violation of the Family Medical Leave Act is entitled to recover double damages (twice the amount lost pay) as well as legal fees and costs.

    Likewise, the New York City Human Rights Law provides employees with the right to collect unlimited punitive damages for any form of employment discrimination or sexual harassment.



    https://www.ottingerlaw.com/blog/ny-wrongful-termination/
     

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