Some employees aren’t very reliable. You know the type: They call in sick with the slightest excuses, often before a scheduled day off or to extend a long weekend. Sometimes, right before you are about to discipline them for, they call in again. Frustrating, right?
But what if your employee claims she had a medical emergency and that she has a doctor’s excuse? What you do next could spell the difference between winning or losing an ADA reasonable accommodations lawsuit.
Recent case: Kylea had just started as a nursing assistant at a Veterans Administration (VA) facility when she began asking for time off. First, she requested her first Friday off to work on a school project. Then she called in before coming into work on Thursday due to an “intestinal issue.” Her supervisors approved the time off, but warned her about attendance.
Her second week went fine. She then worked the first two days of her third week, but called in the morning of the third day. By now, her boss wanted to fire her. However, Kylea explained that she had to miss work because she just got out of the emergency room following an epileptic seizure.
She was fired and sued, alleging failure to accommodate.
The employer argued Kylea hadn’t asked for accommodations or let them know she was disabled. The court ruled a jury should decide the case. It said mentioning epilepsy and asking for time off could be construed as a request for reasonable accommodations. (Sutherland v. Shinseki, No. 11-3118, DC MN, 2013)
Final note: If the employee cites a medical diagnosis and says she has a doctor’s excuse, consider whether calling in sick may be a request for a reasonable accommodation.
- Serial complainer cries harassment? Investigate every allegation
- Are we in trouble? We just demanded that one of our employees lose weight
- Orlando's Hilton Grand, EEOC settle pregnancy bias case
- Confusing work rules can become evidence in court
- Prepare now for Paid Family Leave Act, taking effect in 2009