Can I fire an employee who is likely to develop a serious disease? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Can I fire an employee who is likely to develop a serious disease?

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Q. I own my own business, and controlling my insurance costs is my biggest challenge. Recently, I learned one of my employees has been tested and has the genetic makeup likely to develop into a very serious illness. While I feel sorry for the employee, this disease is likely to cost our company hundreds of thousands of dollars. Can I fire the employee?

A. No, you cannot. Such a termination would probably violate the ADA and the New York State Human Rights Law. Even if the employee was not actually disabled, an argument could be made that you were “perceiving” him as such.

You would also run afoul of a new federal law, effective May 21, 2008, that prohibits termination, refusal to hire or discrimination against someone due to genetic information. 

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