Bennett-Alexander, D., and Hartman, L. (2019). Employment Law for Business, (9th ed.). NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-1-259-72233-2.
reply to the students response in 150 words minimum and provide 1 reference
John is a 54-year-old man with diabetes. He has worked for Telco for 20 years. Lately, he has difficulty concentrating and makes numerous mistakes. He has missed several days of work due to his diabetes. Supervisor Mark wants to fire John this week. .
In analyzing this situation the federal statutes and/or theories of law that are applicable is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). “The ADA prohibits employers from making adverse employment decisions on the basis of a disability of an individual as long as an individual with a disability is otherwise qualified for a position with or without reasonable accommodation.” It is important that an employer really understands the meaning of each term in this statue to ensure that the employer is really making an effort to accommodate if needed. This statute defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual; a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.” to break it down even further “impairment is any physiological disorder or condition… or any mental or psychological disorder which substantially limits one of life’s major activities i.e. such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.” Aside from the terms defined it is also very important to highlight what it means for an employer to reasonably accommodate and what is means for a company to endure undue hardship. Reasonable accommodation is defined as “an accommodation to the individual’s disability that does not place undue hardship on an employer; Undue hardship may be determined by looking to the size of the employer, the cost to the employer, the type of employer and the impact of the accommodation on the employer’s operation. According to Bennett-Alexander, D. & Hartman, L.P. (2019). “An applicant or employee is otherwise qualified for the position if, with or without reasonable accommodation, the worker can perform the essential functions of the position. Reasonable accommodation in this context generally means the removal of the unnecessary restrictions of barriers. reasonable accommodation is further defined as a modification that does not place undue burden or hardship on the employer. (Page 653).
In this hypothetical the legal issues that exist is that John’s supervisor wants to fire him due to his difficulty concentrating, his numerous mistakes and missing several days due to his diabetes. John’s disability is protected by ADA and without making a reasonable accommodation, the employer does not have a legal right to fire him due to John’s situation. The tenure that John brings to the company speaks highly to the commitment he has had to the organization, his abilities to perform the job with or without a reasonable accommodation and with that being said there are several claims that could come up in this situation. From reading this issue it sounds like Mark is fully aware of John’s diabetes from his absences of work. John is required to make a request for a reasonable accommodation and make the employer fully aware of his health issues and what is hindering him from performing the job, then the employers duty is to find any and every possible effort to accommodate Johns situation. ADA cannot protect an employee unless the employer is fully notified and aware of the limitations. Therefore in this situation John needs to first and foremost make sure that Mark is fully aware. In regards to a suffice request the text outlines “According to the EEOCS Guidance, in requesting reasonable accommodation and employee “may use ‘plain English’ and need not mention ADA or use the phrase reasonable accommodation. The courts also have concluded that an employee who merely tells his supervisor that ‘his pain prevented him from working and that he requested leave under FMLA is protected by the ADA.” (Page 662). In this situation Mark needs to be really careful about what decisions he is making in response to Johns performance and/or attendance. If John did his due diligence in notifying his employer of his need of absence and reason for his performance, Mark needs to find every way possible to accommodate. Whether that’s allowing John to take a leave of absence to give him time to care for his issues or really figuring out what barriers can be taken away that is hindering Johns performance. The only way Mark can legally fire John is by after making every ditch effort of accommodating and still not coming up with anything (or if it is causing undue hardship) then Mark would have the legal ability to fire John. With that being said the EEOC will need proof of every effort made as well as the severity of the undue hardship being caused.
One case that I thought was somewhat similar to John’s is Gogos V. AMS Mechanical Systems 737 F.3d 1170 (7th Cir. 2013) “In this case, the plaintiff, an individual with high blood pressure, was terminated from his position. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s order granting summary judgment, and discussed the EEOC’s regulatory language, episodic conditions, mitigating measures, and short term conditions.” (Page 708). In this case Gogos (Employee) has been taking medications to reduce his elevated blood pressure for more that 8 years. He began working for AMS and the second month his blood pressure spiked very high and experienced vision loss. After Gogos discovered his eye was red he requested to leave to seek medical treatment, as he was leaving his general foreman immediately fired him. Gogos then alleged sufficient facts to his claim under ADA and was found that his condition was covered under ADA. “He attributes both problems to his long lasting blood pressure condition and the ADA’s implementing regulation lists hypertension as an example of an impairment that may be episodic.” Gogo’s immediate termination has deemed his the ability to file a discrimination claim under ADA. Gogo has shown that he is fully qualified to perform the job based off of his 45 year experience and due to the fact that he needed medical attention and left work he was fired. This case is very relatable or on point to the situation with John. Hypothetically speaking all parties are aware of Johns situation, John could be needed medical attention which explains his absence and well as he could be having and episode caused by his diabetes which may be causing these mistakes. None the less both supervisors are reacting not making an accommodation and resorting to termination and in these cases these employees are subject to a lawsuit.
In regards to this case an action item that I would recommend is training. I have found through my time in recruiting that most of the reasons for the actions of managers is the lack of education. From experience I have found that they are very receptive to learning and really doing the right thing, after all it is for the good of the organization and their success. Training could play a very vital part in doing the right things to ensuring an organization is following the statues that are set to protect employees. In this case the type of training that I recommend is a very informative and interactive training. This is part of a leadership curriculum really dissecting the meanings behind the terms defined above, the consequences of violating these laws and the overall impact they could make by making every effort to accommodate. I feel that interactive training is most effective because it is not just a module you’re required to take and knowing that those aren’t taken very seriously can cause a lot of harm to an organization. In this training going over real life cases and scenarios and the outcome of these cases could also really make a huge affect on a person’s decision. To conclude this a Q&A can really bring light to certain situations.