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What happens to your job when you acquire a medical condition?

Most people are aware of federal laws that protect employees from discriminatory behavior. One such law covers people who have all types of physical and mental health challenges. Another protects those who have to take time off for maternity leave or to care for family members.

What if you were previously healthy but have now developed an illness that affects your ability to work? Do the laws protect you under this situation?

Medical leave

You can usually take personal medical leave for any serious health condition that necessitates an overnight hospital stay or ongoing medical treatment or a chronic condition that incapacitates you and warrants treatment at least twice a year. You may have to provide certification to prove your condition. If your employer demands a second opinion to validate your condition, your employer must pay for it.

You have up to 12 workweeks, consecutive or intermittent, every year for recovery. While the leave does not come with pay, it does come with continued health benefits and the preservation of your job position or one that is nearly identical.

If you continue working, your employer must accommodate medical appointments so as not to interfere with your treatment. This may require changing your role to better fit your schedule, but you must retain the same pay and benefits.

Disability

If your health condition results in permanent disability, then you also have workplace protections. Your employer cannot fire you if you are still able to perform your job with or without accommodations, and your employer must provide any accommodations you need unless they pose an undue hardship to the business. Examples of reasonable accommodations include wheelchair accessibility, a modified schedule, different duties or enhanced equipment.

When life takes an unexpected turn, you should not have to worry about losing your job. If you experience noncompliance or retaliation from your employer, you may need to take legal action.

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