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Disabled worker can’t do OT: Can we lay her off?

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. We’ve been accommodating a disabled employee by letting her skip overtime. Her doctor says she needs extra sleep. But now we need to lay off several employees and start requiring mandatory overtime. Can we terminate those employees who can’t do overtime? That would include the disabled employee. — M.W., Pennsylvania

A. Yes. To earn job protection under the ADA, an employee must be a “qualified” employee with a disability. Qualified means the employee can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation.

If overtime is mandatory and a requirement of the position, the employee would not be qualified and, therefore, not legally disabled. To protect yourself, you should document—in writing and contemporaneously with the job—the business need for the overtime.

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