You know that you can run into trouble if you treat someone as disabled when they are not. But you’re not in violation of the “perceiving as disabled” provisions of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) every time you notice an employee has a physical problem.
Recent case: When secretary Sharon Garrett broke her ankle, she took to have surgery and recuperate. Garrett showed up for a meeting to discuss her return and, according to her supervisor, “was limping badly.”
When Garrett was subsequently terminated, she sued under NJLAD, claiming her supervisor had perceived her as handicapped.
The court disagreed. Although her supervisor saw the limp, that didn’t mean the supervisor thought she couldn’t do her secretarial job. It dismissed Garrett’s case. (Garrett v. Atlanticare, No. 07-5416, DC NJ, 2009)
- When employer calls for a recommendation, keep it basic
- Worker receiving disability benefits: Can we substitute unpaid FMLA for paid leave?
- Beware FMLA trap in no-fault attendance policy
- Returning soldiers entitled to equivalent jobs, but not necessarily their old ones
- Controlling absence: 5 keys to doing it legally