Disability Discrimination will cost a company $135,000 for unlawful termination due to medical conditions.
If your employee is performing a new job satisfactory for several weeks, can you then fire that employee when s/he makes a request for an accommodation? EEOC recently sued a large industrial company that provides direct-hire construction services to traditional industrial markets, when the employee requested an accommodation for his physical impairments, which included a leg amputation. Allegedly, the company also refused to let the employee to return to work unless he provided medical documentation that he could perform his job duties without medical restrictions.
What’s the problem here? First, the company must engage in good-faith discussions about the accommodations an employee requests. This informal discussion should explore whether the requested accommodation is “reasonable” and if not, are there any other types of accommodations that would be reasonable & not cause an “undue hardship” on the company. Secondly, medical documentation can only be required if the need for the accommodation is not evident. I don’t know all the facts in this case, especially what the employee’s job is, but surely a leg amputation is an obvious physical impairment and depending on the job, it might be fairly obvious why the particular accommodation was requested. And third, document every decision and action taken in order to have a paper trail if a complaint is filed. This is one of your best ways of showing that your actions were not intentional discrimination, but rather, based on business necessity.
In addition to the monetary settlement, the company will provide its employees, supervisors, and managers with annual training for two years on the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to make periodic reports to the EEOC. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to start the new year off right and schedule your ADA training for your employees, supervisors and managers.
This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.