Hello, I am an administrative assistant at a firm and I've been having throbbing headaches the past few days I believe to sinus pressure. I never take a true lunch I always still greet customers and vendors/take phone calls/deal with deliveries. So on my hour lunch break I decided to rest my head to relieve my throbbing headache so I sat my head down at my desk for 5min. Before I was told not.. which made sense because clients would be walking in and what not. I then decided to go to our backroom "area where no one walks in" and rest my head there and I was yelled at and told that is not allowed. Now I am being almost what it seems like threatened to not be mad at them and if I don't agree that they will fire me? All I wanted was an 1 hour of silence to myself for one day out of the 2 years of working there because I'm not feeling well
.. what should I do?
Not a medical malpractice question. Moved to employment law.
answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.
If an employer does not want you napping or resting, it has every right to require that of you. You, of course, have every right to find another employer, one that may be more understanding. Just an fyi, an employer does not need a reason to fire you, and you don't need a reason to quit. This is the operation of the at-will doctrine. Hope this sheds some light.
If you are working during a bonafide lunch break you are entitled to be paid and your employer may impose requirements regarding your posture.
If you are taking a bonafide unpaid lunch break, you are entitled to that time in full... In other words you do not work for your employer during that time and you may do as you wish, although you may need to go off-site to nap.
However, you have raised a medical issue. If your physician were to provide you with medical instructions to your employer requiring you be given adequate breaks, including an area where you can 'rest your head', your employer is required to testify those instructions. If you're condition is a disability, either diagnosed or regarded as such, your employer is required to engage in a good faith interactive process to provide you with an accommodation (you identify the accommodation need and ask for it). Permitting you to rest your head on breaks is a minor accommodation.
I must disagree with the opinion that at-will employment permits an employer to fire you for any or no reason. An employer may not terminate you for requesting an accommodation under the ADA, nor may it terminate you for whistleblowing in most states. In other words, at-will does not include a right to terminate, or otherwise discriminate, harass, or retaliate in any manner, where an employee has exercised protected rights.
In your case--if I were you--I would be seeking to get paid for the entirety of my unpaid lunches and any other time you might have worked but not been paid for--it really adds up over the course of weeks/months and years.
The Fair Labor Standards Act---if that applies to you---you have options.
This may sound silly to you--but may I ask why you did not just call in sick? Believe it or not, employees who refuse to call in sick because they "need the money" are often the reason why bad colds, the flu and even worse sicknesses get spread throughout the entire workforce--causing their employers great problems. Unless I miss my educated guess your employer does NOT want you coming to work sick--and then laying your head down on your desk or a "back room"--that is not designed to be a sick ward.
Listen and learn: Florida is an “at will” state, which means employers are free to hire, transfer, promote, demote, suspend, reinstate, fire and rehire employees for any reason at any time, i.e., “at will.” The only thing employers cannot do is make any of these adverse employment decisions based upon any employee’s member of a "protected class" i.e., race, age, gender, disability, religion, marital status or national origin. Please notice that "having a bad sinus headache" is NOT a "protected class."
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