Disabled employees sometimes try to use their medical conditions as an excuse for poor behavior. Don’t fall for it.
Disability can’t be used to avoid discipline for misconduct.
Recent case: Yvett Rudolph had experience working for the state of Louisiana, where she assessed eligibility for food stamps and other social welfare programs. She moved to North Carolina and took a similar job with the Buncombe County government.
Rudolph had been diagnosed with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and took Adderall, a prescription drug, for the condition. She told her new employer about her condition up front, before she was hired.
Rudolph had problems almost immediately because she used procedures from her old job in Louisiana, instead of the usual North Carolina processes.
Then she was caught violating a confidentiality rule while trying to determine if a man was eligible for welfare benefits. She had to figure out whether he was receiving money from his wife and if she was part of his household, or whether they were separated, as he claimed.
Instead of following North Carolina rules that required her to send a form for the client to fill out, she took it upon herself to call his wife directly. In doing so, she revealed that the man had applied for welfare benefits, violating state confidentiality rules. Rudolph was terminated for misconduct.
She sued, alleging that her disability made it hard for her to learn new processes and instead had to rely on old habits.
The court said that excuse didn’t cut it. She knew the rules were different in North Carolina and therefore committed misconduct when she ignored them. Her disability was irrelevant. The case was dismissed. (Rudolph v. Buncombe County Government, et al., No. 1-10-CV-203, WD NC, 2012)
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