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Never link absences to employee’s disabled relative

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in Discrimination and Harassment

Here’s an easy way to avoid unnecessary litigation: If you are disciplining an employee for missing too much work, don’t tie absences to a disabled relative’s condition. If you do, you may end up losing an association discrimination case.

Recent case: Sandra had a disabled son and frequently had to take time off to care for his medical needs. Her employer knew about the child. She continued to miss work even after she ran out of leave.

Her employer fired her after handing her a memo that outlined the ab­­sences. It stated that she was being terminated because of “absences due to her minor son’s medical condition.”

That statement, the court concluded, was enough to tie her termination to her relationship with her disabled son, creating a disability-association discrimination claim. (Ruiz v. Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District, No. 7:13-CV-443, SD TX, 2014)

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