A supervisor asks a worker to move some heavy boxes, which isn’t one of the worker’s usual duties. The worker refuses, claiming physical problems prevent him from doing so.
What should the supervisor do? Fire him for insubordination? Or refer him to HR so it can determine whether the employee is disabled?
Recent case: Morris Campbell repaired copiers for Commercial Equipment, Inc., in Raleigh. One day, Campbell’s boss told him to help unload a shipment of copiers. He refused, saying a medical condition made it impossible for him help out. The supervisor fired Campbell, who sued.
Fortunately for Commercial Equipment, Campbell tried to represent himself and lost on a technicality. But the company could have avoided an expensive trip to the courthouse by sending Campbell to HR instead of immediately firing him. (Campbell v. Commercial Equipment, No. 5:10-CV-00313, ED NC, 2011)
- Harassing dentist strikes nerve among employees
- What to do when a Department of Labor auditor comes a-knocking
- Complaining that schedule is discriminatory may be protected
- Warn supervisors: Wage mistakes could mean personal liability--and they would have to pay!
- Just worried about discipline? Employee can't sue yet