Can I Be Fired For Being In A Mental Health Facility?

Question

Asked by Teacher

Can I Be Fired For Being In A Mental Health Facility?

I was recently hospitalized due to my depression (which caused me to think I should take a half a bottle of my prescription medicine) and now my employer is telling me he is going to have to check with HR and with the hospital to see if I am well enough to do my job. I was out for a week and my husband didn't call back over the weekend to let them know I would be in there through the next week. I tried to explain that we didn't really know the status of my stay-the length that is, and that he did the best he could do trying to be a single dad for a week. I just want to know what information will they be given and if I can get written up or fired for this. I bet if it was a medical condition it would not even be questioned.

Thanks for any input!

Answer

First of all, you could call HR yourself, beat them to it, and explain what's happened. You have no obligation to tell anyone what you were in the hospital for, nor can your doctor or hospital divulge that kind of information unless you give them permission. Do you have a department like Employee Assistance? Some bigger companies do and they can be quite helpful in situations like this.

When I was on a leave for depression, I did tell my boss what I was going out for, but when he tried to subtly refer to it in my next performance review, I talked to his boss and said that if he was saying I did meet the requirements of my job, then saying that I had been out on leave was irrelevant, and he agreed. I also went to to higher management a couple of times when another boss was trying to use my depression against me. They were quite empathetic and I think if you can be honest about it with the people who matter, they will respect you for that and are less likely to imagine how "sane" you are or aren't. That helps dispel stigma, too, for everyone else.

Good luck with this, let us know how things turn out. You shouldn't be "punished" because your husband didn't make that call. I wish you all the best.