Legal-ish question about a friend who was fired due to Epilepsy.

  • Neurons

    Posts: 537

    Jan 01, 2012 5:15 PM GMT
    My friend has epilepsy where she'll get seizures once a month or so. She's recently got a new job at the mall. Unfortunately, since working there for about two months, she's had 4 seizures. They're small ones, but they happen. She said she's never had a seizure at work before this, so it's something new.

    Anyway, she went to work yesterday and her boss called her in 5 minutes before her shift and told her they had to let her go due to scheduling issues because she's not able to close due to the seizures. She's had a few while closing the store.

    Anyway, she's saying it's discrimination but I really don't think that's the case. I feel her boss didn't fire her in an appropriate way.. making her go all the way to work just to be fired.

    Can I get some thoughts on the issue? I really don't know what to tell her.
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    Jan 01, 2012 5:23 PM GMT


    Here:

    http://www.epilepsymatters.com/english/employment3.html


    Technically, if epilepsy prevents her from doing the job, they could lay her off, but I believe that comes along with a severance payment, even if the job is recent. I think it's 2 weeks pay, and the reasons on the gov't form which would be used for unemployment insurance cannot be that she was fired for any kind of delinquency in duties, but that she was laid off.

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    Jan 01, 2012 5:45 PM GMT
    Employment laws vary greatly by country and sometimes within a country/state/province.
    However like noted above, even in a country like Canada here which has very entrenched rights in these types of situations an employee is NOT guaranteed a job and can be terminated if they cannot perform their job any longer regardless of it being disability related. A company store is not legally obliged to "find" other work for a disabled employee to keep them working.
    Many people are under the very false assumption that they can't be fired/let go etc because they have a disability.

    As to your thinking it wasn't right that he called her in to work and then let her go? How was he supposed to do it.. over the phone? That would be improper. Had he done that you'd be saying he didn't have the balls to tell her to his face.
  • Neurons

    Posts: 537

    Jan 01, 2012 5:59 PM GMT
    beneful1 saidEmployment laws vary greatly by country and sometimes within a country/state/province.
    However like noted above, even in a country like Canada here which has very entrenched rights in these types of situations an employee is NOT guaranteed a job and can be terminated if they cannot perform their job any longer regardless of it being disability related. A company store is not legally obliged to "find" other work for a disabled employee to keep them working.
    Many people are under the very false assumption that they can't be fired/let go etc because they have a disability.

    As to your thinking it wasn't right that he called her in to work and then let her go? How was he supposed to do it.. over the phone? That would be improper. Had he done that you'd be saying he didn't have the balls to tell her to his face.


    My friends manager was praising her for a doing a great job before the seizures came. They only happen for less than a minute. They hadn't stopped her from performing her job.

    I think her manager should have notified her after a shift at least. Plus, I was let go from a seasonal job when I was 16 over the phone when I had three jobs, it didnt make any difference to me.
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    Jan 01, 2012 6:00 PM GMT
    TheKrisPandemic saidMy friend has epilepsy where she'll get seizures once a month or so. She's recently got a new job at the mall. Unfortunately, since working there for about two months, she's had 4 seizures. They're small ones, but they happen. She said she's never had a seizure at work before this, so it's something new.

    I lost a job due to seizures. Nothing I could do, since I couldn't meet the job requirements, and seizures aren't something for which you can make a workplace adjustment or modification, like a wheelchair accommodation.

    In your friend's case, she might have benefited from a boost in her anti-convulsant meds. Many epileptics, myself included, will seize more often under stress, and a new job can cause stress. The meds can be backed off again when the stress subsides. She should consider this in the future.
  • Neurons

    Posts: 537

    Jan 01, 2012 6:01 PM GMT
    meninlove said

    Here:

    http://www.epilepsymatters.com/english/employment3.html


    Technically, if epilepsy prevents her from doing the job, they could lay her off, but I believe that comes along with a severance payment, even if the job is recent. I think it's 2 weeks pay, and the reasons on the gov't form which would be used for unemployment insurance cannot be that she was fired for any kind of delinquency in duties, but that she was laid off.



    Thanks so much. I think it's bad because her job was permanent. The seizures don't stop her from doing her job. Plus, her doctor just upped her medication so they'll be coming less frequently. It was only a retail job, though.
  • Neurons

    Posts: 537

    Jan 01, 2012 6:02 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    TheKrisPandemic saidMy friend has epilepsy where she'll get seizures once a month or so. She's recently got a new job at the mall. Unfortunately, since working there for about two months, she's had 4 seizures. They're small ones, but they happen. She said she's never had a seizure at work before this, so it's something new.

    I lost a job due to seizures. Nothing I could do, since I couldn't meet the job requirements, and seizures aren't something for which you can make a workplace adjustment or modification, like a wheelchair accommodation.

    In your friend's case, she may have benefited from a boost in her anti-convulsant meds. Many epileptics, myself included, will seize more often under stress, and a new job can cause stress. The meds can be backed off again when the stress subsides. She should consider this in the future.


    That reminds me, she mentioned it was stressful in the beginning. Especially since it was Christmas time, etc. She did get the boost but she was fired before she even had another seizure.
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    Jan 01, 2012 6:08 PM GMT
    TheKrisPandemic said
    Art_Deco said
    TheKrisPandemic saidMy friend has epilepsy where she'll get seizures once a month or so. She's recently got a new job at the mall. Unfortunately, since working there for about two months, she's had 4 seizures. They're small ones, but they happen. She said she's never had a seizure at work before this, so it's something new.

    I lost a job due to seizures. Nothing I could do, since I couldn't meet the job requirements, and seizures aren't something for which you can make a workplace adjustment or modification, like a wheelchair accommodation.

    In your friend's case, she may have benefited from a boost in her anti-convulsant meds. Many epileptics, myself included, will seize more often under stress, and a new job can cause stress. The meds can be backed off again when the stress subsides. She should consider this in the future.

    That reminds me, she mentioned it was stressful in the beginning. Especially since it was Christmas time, etc. She did get the boost but she was fired before she even had another seizure.

    Makes perfect sense. Next time she might want to anticipate the stress and start the boost early. It takes a while for the meds to build and have effect.
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    Jan 01, 2012 6:11 PM GMT
    TheKrisPandemic said
    meninlove said

    Here:

    http://www.epilepsymatters.com/english/employment3.html


    Technically, if epilepsy prevents her from doing the job, they could lay her off, but I believe that comes along with a severance payment, even if the job is recent. I think it's 2 weeks pay, and the reasons on the gov't form which would be used for unemployment insurance cannot be that she was fired for any kind of delinquency in duties, but that she was laid off.



    Thanks so much. I think it's bad because her job was permanent. The seizures don't stop her from doing her job. Plus, her doctor just upped her medication so they'll be coming less frequently. It was only a retail job, though.


    It doesn't matter that it was retail. I think you should show her the website and take a look at her ROE, which her employer has to provide her with, usually in a week or so.

    Also, I was wrong about severance pay; it's termination pay. She also needs to apply for unemployment insurance right away with her ROE document.

    I hope this is helping, Kris!

    PS Happy New Year!



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    Jan 01, 2012 6:24 PM GMT
    The only possible way that your friend "may" have a case for being unjustly terminated is if she was originally hired and had divulged the fact she was epileptic on her application or during the interview and the company hired her with that knowledge. Even though it's illegal in most places discriminate against hiring a disabled employee the employer has the right to ensure that the person they are hiring is capable of performing the duties required. Usually it will say something on the application to the effect of "do you suffer from any condition that could prohibit you from performing this job in a SAFE and efficient manner. Then by the fact that they knew upon hiring her, they were accepting that she was fit to perform the job they were offering her. Still in all if it later turned out for some reason or another her seizures made it impossible for her to continue her duties in a "safe" manner the company could probably still proceed with a termination but would probably be held to an even higher severence pay.

  • FRE0

    Posts: 4864

    Jan 01, 2012 8:47 PM GMT
    Certainly it makes sense to be required to be able to perform the job, sometimes with reasonable accommodation. From my own personal experience, I know that laws prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities are required.

    Years ago, I worked for a company which will remain unnamed. It was a large monopolistic telephone company here in the U.S.; it has since been broken up. After I applied for the job, they tested my eyesight and, because of a clerical error, they hired me even though my uncorrected vision was worse than 20:100 which was their minimum requirement; my corrected vision was slightly better then 20:20. Upon discovering the clerical error, I was told that I would have to re-take the vision test and unless I was found to have vision of at least 20:100 without glasses, I would lose my job. Fortunately, I was able to memorize the eye chart down to 20:80 before removing my glasses. There was no valid reason for the uncorrected vision requirement; it was totally arbitrary.

    It's a good thing that, at least in many places, employers can no longer discriminate against disabled people who are able to do the job satisfactorily. Without such laws, many highly competent people who would be able to perform exceptionally well on the job would be on welfare.
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    Jan 01, 2012 8:55 PM GMT
    Let me ask you this would be fair for a blind person to argue that their employment is discriminating against them because they are not permitted to drive a vehicle? Employers could legally discriminate against blind people if they were seeking positions that would put them behind the wheel.

    Unless you can prove that the job requirements do not entail a bona fide occupational requirement such that does not discriminate against her disability
    She has no case. As for severance she was only working for two months.
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    Jan 01, 2012 9:12 PM GMT
    there is an Americans With Disabilities Act which states that employers have to make reasonable accommodations to those with disabilities..i don't know if that applies here? i know that employers have to make arrangements to allow a deaf person to be able to perform their job for instance...
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    Jan 01, 2012 9:16 PM GMT
    forget it....its CANADA
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4864

    Jan 01, 2012 9:20 PM GMT
    ChangeofName saidLet me ask you this would be fair for a blind person to argue that their employment is discriminating against them because they are not permitted to drive a vehicle? Employers could legally discriminate against blind people if they were seeking positions that would put them behind the wheel.

    Unless you can prove that the job requirements do not entail a bona fide occupational requirement such that does not discriminate against her disability
    She has no case. As for severance she was only working for two months.


    It may be that we lack sufficient information to determine whether she has a case.

    Suppose that her seizures last only a minute, are very mild, and that she has a warning of a minute or so before a seizure occurs. I that case, she may have sufficient time to set down anything she is carrying, get out of sight, and briefly sit on the floor until she recovers. Some people have brief seizures that are so mild that people watching them may not even notice.

    Seizures vary. I've seen seizures that were very frightening to observers who had no idea what was happening. I was present when a guy had a violent seizure and fell down with his limbs jerking. While he was still unconscious, the rescue squad was called, gave him oxygen even though he was breathing properly, and took him to the hospital. Some observers would not believe it when two of us stated that unless he hurt himself when he fell, he'd be fine. We went to the hospital, found that he had fully recovered, and took him to his home; he was fine. If those sitting next to him had understood what was happening, they would have caught him to prevent him from falling after suddenly standing up, then he wouldn't have banged his head on the floor.

    Obviously people subject to seizures should not be driving a vehicle. Also, unless the seizures are preceded by sufficient warning, they should not be climbing ladders, etc. But again, we may lack sufficient information to have a valid opinion about whether the women in question has a case against her employer.
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    Jan 01, 2012 11:34 PM GMT
    It would be worth her while to put a call in to the Ontario Human Rights Commission just to ask. (I see you are posting from Ontario)



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    Jan 01, 2012 11:40 PM GMT
    I think it's a violation of the ADA. - That is a disability businesses are supposed to make "adequate accomodation" for if it's is properly disclosed at the beginning of employment.

    If your friend didn't disclose it to the employer - that, itself, could be grounds for termination in some states.

    - It also depends on the laws of the states. Some states are "at will" states - meaning you can be fired for any time or any reason or for no reason. - So that means they don't have to justify terminating you - and it becomes a very difficult burden to prove discrimination.

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    Jan 01, 2012 11:40 PM GMT
    I am prone to seizures since my stroke and medications notwithstanding, stress can bring them on, and it can be very distressing to see.

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    Jan 01, 2012 11:52 PM GMT
    TheKrisPandemic saidMy friend has epilepsy where she'll get seizures once a month or so. She's recently got a new job at the mall. Unfortunately, since working there for about two months, she's had 4 seizures. They're small ones, but they happen. She said she's never had a seizure at work before this, so it's something new.

    Anyway, she went to work yesterday and her boss called her in 5 minutes before her shift and told her they had to let her go due to scheduling issues because she's not able to close due to the seizures. She's had a few while closing the store.

    Anyway, she's saying it's discrimination but I really don't think that's the case. I feel her boss didn't fire her in an appropriate way.. making her go all the way to work just to be fired.

    Can I get some thoughts on the issue? I really don't know what to tell her.


    If her illness prevents her from performing her job duties, then they can let her go.

    She will be eligible for unemployment, disability, etc.

    No worries.
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    Jan 02, 2012 2:08 AM GMT
    Upper_Cdn saidIt would be worth her while to put a call in to the Ontario Human Rights Commission just to ask. (I see you are posting from Ontario)


    That's a fascist organization, if there ever was one. Worse than the Spanish Inquisition.

    Skip Levant, go to the brilliant Mark Steyn - he tears your politicians a new and improved asshole:



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    Jan 02, 2012 3:08 AM GMT
    FRE0 said...Suppose that her seizures last only a minute, are very mild, and that she has a warning of a minute or so before a seizure occurs. I that case, she may have sufficient time to set down anything she is carrying, get out of sight, and briefly sit on the floor until she recovers. Some people have brief seizures that are so mild that people watching them may not even notice.

    Seizures vary. I've seen seizures that were very frightening to observers who had no idea what was happening. I was present when a guy had a violent seizure and fell down with his limbs jerking. While he was still unconscious, the rescue squad was called, gave him oxygen even though he was breathing properly, and took him to the hospital. Some observers would not believe it when two of us stated that unless he hurt himself when he fell, he'd be fine.

    This is all correct. A seizure is often called an "electrical storm" in the brain, and depending where it strikes, and how severely, the effects can vary greatly.

    For instance, I'm luckily spared the massive convulsive seizures, where the muscles go into spasms. This used to be called grand mal seizure.

    I get petit mal, aka TLE (temporal lobe epilepsy) seizures, and additionally called complex partial seizures. Some of my seizures are so mild they are essentially "absence seizures" where you just sorta blank out in place, not unlike the way daydreaming looks to an observer. You remain still, eyes open, but inside your head you've blacked out, and become non responsive to external stimulus.

    I wouldn't even realized they'd happened, except that sometimes I'll have been watching TV, waiting for a show to begin, and next moment I know I'm awake and the story is already 5 minutes along. That's about the most time they ever last.

    So this friend of the OP might have been so slightly effected that she could have done her job, with brief interruptions, and shouldn't have been terminated.

    If she were fired over this in the US, and the epilepsy made her unemployable, she might be eligible for disability income under Social Security. I don't know what the Canadian equivalent is.
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    Jan 02, 2012 4:47 AM GMT
    Canada's Fascism.



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    Jan 02, 2012 4:53 AM GMT
    Oh but by all means, go running to the Human Rights Commission.
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    Jan 02, 2012 6:48 AM GMT
    JackNWNJ saidOh but by all means, go running to the Human Rights Commission.



    While we're sure you'd love us to take your bait, your posts are too dopey dildock to be considered replying to. Just a courteous FYI for you.

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    Jan 02, 2012 6:57 AM GMT
    beneful1 saidEmployment laws vary greatly by country and sometimes within a country/state/province.
    However like noted above, even in a country like Canada here which has very entrenched rights in these types of situations an employee is NOT guaranteed a job and can be terminated if they cannot perform their job any longer regardless of it being disability related. A company store is not legally obliged to "find" other work for a disabled employee to keep them working.
    Many people are under the very false assumption that they can't be fired/let go etc because they have a disability.

    As to your thinking it wasn't right that he called her in to work and then let her go? How was he supposed to do it.. over the phone? That would be improper. Had he done that you'd be saying he didn't have the balls to tell her to his face.


    yea but you missed an important part that employers have a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship.