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Threatening behavior trumps employee’s disability claim

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in Firing,Human Resources

Employees who are suffering from depression, anxiety or other psychological problems may be disabled, but that doesn’t mean they’re excused from following the rules.

For example, employers don’t have to tolerate threats, even if the threats concern the employee’s disability.

Recent case: Enrico Lopez worked for AT&T until he was terminated. Lopez has post-traumatic depression and suffered from panic attacks. He attributed some of the panic to his supervisor.

AT&T fired Lopez for violating its no-threats policy after he told his supervisor, “I know where you live” and stated that his condition was “like being at war and killing people.” Lopez sued, alleging he was terminated because he was disabled.

The court dismissed the case, reasoning that threats don’t have to be tolerated from any employee. They are a legitimate, independent basis for termination. (Lopez v. AT&T, No. 11-11491, 11th Cir., 2012)

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