Hey New Yorkers…Do You Need Time Off Because You’ve Got the Flu?

Drug manufacturers are well into the process of preparing for this year’s flu season. The CDC recommends people six (6) months or older be vaccinated, ideally by October. What happens if you get the flu and need time off? Can you be fired for not coming to work because you have the flu? In New York, the answers to these two questions may be “No!” The pertinent issue becomes whether your flu constitutes a disability under New York law. 

 
New York law defines a disability, in relevant part, as a health condition that “prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques . . . .” 

Even more broadly, New York City law defines a disability, in relevant part, as “[a]n impairment of any system of the body . . . .”

Though each person’s illness is different and fact specific, if you’ve ever had the flu, it certainly feels like it “prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function” or “impairs a bodily system.” Many find it difficult to even get out of bed when they have the flu. In fact, just last year 150 healthcare workers were fired for refusing to get a flu shot.

If you come down with the flu this season and suffer an adverse employment action, including without limitation, being fired, The Harman Firm, LLP wants to talk to you.