Bipolar worker making threats: Accommodate or terminate?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

by Mindy Chapman, Esq.

In the past few months, several Holly­wood celebrities—including Cath­erine Zeta-Jones and Demi Lovato—have publicly announced they suffer from bipolar disorder, a mental illness defined by high and low mood swings. Even Charlie Sheen has dubbed himself “bi-winning.”

But what if a bipolar employee ex­­hibits threatening behavior—can you discipline her, or must you accommodate the disability? Do anti-violence policies trump employee disability rights? Here’s what one court said last month …

Case in Point: Linda Wills, a court clerk in California, suffered from bi­­polar disorder, a disability affecting about 2.6% of Americans over age 18, says the National Institute of Health.

From time to time, Wills took medi­­cal leave to take care of her ­condition. She never told her super­visors about her diagnosis.

One day, Wills had to wait outside of work for several minutes, ringing the buzzer to get in. Once ...(register to read more)

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