New job requirement can be good reason for discharge

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

In these tough economic times, employers often have to find ways to do more with less—such as cutting some positions and adding new duties and responsibilities to others. That means some employees will no longer be qualified for their jobs.

Recent case:
Anthony James, who is black, worked as a patient representative in an emergency room. The hospital had to reduce staff to balance the budget.

To make sure the hospital could serve the needs of patients (including many who speak only Spanish), the remaining representatives were required to have at least rudimentary Spanish skills. James couldn’t pass the language test and lost his job. He sued for race discrimination.

The court tossed out his case, reasoning that James was no longer qualified for the job. (James v. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, No. 07-5135, DC NJ, 2009)

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