Was that insubordination, or an accommodations request?

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in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

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)

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