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If absenteeism not disability-related, feel free to discipline

by on
in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

You should hold disabled employees to the same behavioral standards as other employees, unless there is a good disability-related reason to deviate from the rules.

For example, if you set strict time limits for lunches and authorized breaks, there is no reason to give disabled employees more time unless allowing more time is a legitimate reasonable accommodation.

Note: That might be the case for a disabled employee who needs extra breaks to take or monitor medication.

Recent case: Rhonda Cox suffers from anxiety, hepatitis C, fibromyalgia, depression and sleep disorders. She was terminated from her job with the Department of Veterans Affairs because of poor attendance. The VA said Cox consistently came to work late, left early and took long breaks and lunches when other employees did not. In fact, she received more than 50 warnings before she was fired.

Cox sued, alleging she had really been discharged because she had asked for several weeks off as a reasonable accommodation when she first contracted hepatitis C. The VA denied her request because she didn’t submit any documentation showing she needed that much time off.

The court dismissed her lawsuit because Cox offered no evidence she was fired for anything other than ignoring the attendance and break rules. She had no proof her late arrivals, lengthy breaks and early departures were disability-related. (Cox v. Shinseki, No. 3:08-CV-422, SD OH, 2010)

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