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Fired For Having Epilepsy? Pennsylvania

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  • Fired For Having Epilepsy? Pennsylvania

    My mom just got fired from her job where she worked for 6 years, due to her being epileptic. She has had this problem all her life, and they hired her knowing she was epileptic.

    I'm being told that her being fired due to her epilepsy is illegal is this true? They told her that she can't come back to work unless she gets rid of her seizures, and something doesn't seem right about that.

    Other info is that she worked in a kitchen.
    Last edited by Sobel; 10-04-2007, 12:02 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Sobel View Post
    My mom just got fired from her job where she worked for 6 years, due to her being epileptic. She has had this problem all her life, and they hired her knowing she was epileptic.

    I'm being told that her being fired due to her epilepsy is illegal is this true? They told her that she can't come back to work unless she gets rid of her seizures, and something doesn't seem right about that.

    Other info is that she worked in a kitchen.
    What accomodations has her job made for her? Has she used her FMLA leave for the year? What were her job duties in the kitchen? Has she had seizures at work, or are they controlled by medications?
    Please no private messages about your situation.

    Comment


    • #3
      It depends. While epilepsy can fall under ADA, and as such she may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation that would allow her to perform the essential functions of th job, we don't have enough info to even reasonably speculate that she was discharged in violation of ADA.

      If she is having regular seizures and works in a kitchen, I'm betting it is a safety issue. There may not be a reasonable accommodation that allows her to work in the kitchen if her medical condition is not under control. Employers are not required to risk the employee's or coworker's safety in order to comply with ADA. They are also not required to wait until disaster strikes before acting.
      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree that it is probably a safety issue. I was being nosy, too.
        Please no private messages about your situation.

        Comment


        • #5
          She was having seizures at work, so I suppose that it is probably a worker/co-worker safety issue and was informed of that shortly after I posted the thread.

          She does take medication for her epilepsy, but it doesn't control it to the point of where they stop completely. Her seizures happen at anytime, and vary in length, and intensity.

          It just makes me wonder why they'd fire her now after working there 6 years, knowing that she had this problem.

          Comment


          • #6
            You never explained just what it is that she does. Maybe that have made as many accomodations as possible, and its just not working out any longer.
            Please no private messages about your situation.

            Comment


            • #7
              And has she been having seizures at work for the entire six years? If not, your argument goes right out the window, Joe.
              The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

              Comment


              • #8
                I do not agree. If she was not having seizures until recently, then there was not a safety issue until recently. And how do you know that they did not attempt an accomodation and couldn't find one?
                The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                Comment


                • #9
                  As someone who hires employees to work in Food Service, I'd say someone prone to seizures is a great risk in an industrial kitchen. It does depend upon what kind of preparation is done and what equipment is around but the risk of injury to one's self or others can be very high. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you have someone prone to seizures working around knives, open flames, slicers, fryers and industrial mixers, you have a problem. It may be worth talking over with a lawyer as we don't have all the facts here and mom probably hasn't shared everything, but it is hardly a slam dunk.
                  I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    She has had seizures at work before, but she doesn't work in a kitchen persay, as in making the food, she hands it out. She's like a lunch lady I guess you could say.

                    She has had seizures throughout the years she's been working there, and on some days they are worse than they are others.

                    She takes medication for them, and has been ever since I can remember. Even though they don't completely stop the seizures they do help out. I can't exactly remember what medication she's on though, or I'd list it here.

                    Anything else you need, lemme know, I'll answer

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Sobel View Post
                      She has had seizures at work before, but she doesn't work in a kitchen persay, as in making the food, she hands it out. She's like a lunch lady I guess you could say.

                      She has had seizures throughout the years she's been working there, and on some days they are worse than they are others.

                      She takes medication for them, and has been ever since I can remember. Even though they don't completely stop the seizures they do help out. I can't exactly remember what medication she's on though, or I'd list it here.

                      Anything else you need, lemme know, I'll answer
                      It's like Dilantin, that's the typical treatment for epilepsy, although other meds are available the majority of cases are treated with this. But I digress.

                      I'm not epileptic however I myself suffer the occasional seizure due to diabetes. I was fired from a food service job (A Burger King franchise operated by AAFES (basically the federal company that operates the PX/BX and other little restaurants on military bases) However at the time I was only 17 and simply lost my job without any known recourse. I wish I'd thought to do something at the time as I remember feeling pretty crappy that my condition lost me my job, something I have no choice in the matter of. I hope she fights back hard and they do something to rectify this situation for her. It's not just a matter of losing your job, it's hurtful and depressing that something you've know control over ends up with you being treated as if you've done something wrong, being fired leaves you with no unemployment options often times and this is simply unfair to thos suffering medical disabilities.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My 18 year old son has had seizures his whole life due to a brain injury at birth. I know that seizures can be controlled with medications and other means.

                        If she worked there for 6 years and did not have a safety issue during that period, it is hard to imagine that one has suddenly developed. Sounds like it could be a pretext to me, if in fact they are claiming the safety defense.

                        More likely, she had a seizure, and an ignorant and noncompassionate customer saw it and complained or commented about it to management, and now management has decided to get rid of her because she looks bad to the customers. I have seen folks fired in NC for far less.

                        She may well have a ADA claim to make, or a claim under the state's mini-ADA. I would recommend that she contact a local employment lawyer who handles discrimination cases and get some hard legal advice. Or, she can go straight to the EEOC and file a complaint. They can tell her pretty quickly whether her ADA complaint has merit.
                        Bob Bollinger, Attorney
                        Board Certified Specialist in NC Workers' Compensation Law
                        Charlotte, NC

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I totally agree with Bob, If the employer hires an employee in, knowing that the employee is disabled in some certain way, the employer has accepted that responsibility and all that comes along with that particular “disability”.

                          It does not matter if the employee has had seizures from the time she interviewed, right there in front of whomever was hiring her or nor does it matter if she has not suffered a seizure in 10 years. The employee was up front about her condition and the employer still hired her (which by all rights they should have if she was capable and met the necessary job requirements or that could lead to a discrimination suit under ADA as well.)

                          Sobel, you tell your mom to contact and interview several attorneys in her area that specialist in employment law and ADA...if this employer terminated her for have a seizure then they seriously violated her rights and she is DEFINITELY HAS A “RIGHT TO SUE”....
                          Good luck to your mom!! Keep us posted if possible.

                          Beth


                          Originally posted by complwyr View Post
                          My 18 year old son has had seizures his whole life due to a brain injury at birth. I know that seizures can be controlled with medications and other means.

                          If she worked there for 6 years and did not have a safety issue during that period, it is hard to imagine that one has suddenly developed. Sounds like it could be a pretext to me, if in fact they are claiming the safety defense.

                          More likely, she had a seizure, and an ignorant and noncompassionate customer saw it and complained or commented about it to management, and now management has decided to get rid of her because she looks bad to the customers. I have seen folks fired in NC for far less.

                          She may well have a ADA claim to make, or a claim under the state's mini-ADA. I would recommend that she contact a local employment lawyer who handles discrimination cases and get some hard legal advice. Or, she can go straight to the EEOC and file a complaint. They can tell her pretty quickly whether her ADA complaint has merit.
                          Beth,
                          Legal Assistant
                          Workers Compensation Specialist

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thank ya, and knowledge and experience....


                            Originally posted by joec
                            Nice to see common sence for a change.
                            JoeC
                            Beth,
                            Legal Assistant
                            Workers Compensation Specialist

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Will do

                              We're going to contact an attorney tomorrow to file the disability forms, since they can get her into disability quicker than if she did it herself, and then we'll ask and see if they think we have a case or not.

                              Either way it'll take years to settle, if they decide to, so she has to have some income coming in (insert disability)

                              I'll try and keep you all posted tho

                              Comment

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