Q. A new employee just told us she has a seizure disorder. Our facility works with vulnerable adults and the new employee would be required to drive them. This poses a risk potential for the client’s safety. Can we terminate this person or do we need to figure out an accommodation? The employee hasn’t asked for any yet. — Martin, Minnesota
A. Although the ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination, it does not require you to employ someone in a position in which his or her health condition would pose a direct threat to the safety of that person or any others. While it sounds like the seizure disorder might pose a direct threat, in my experience individuals with seizure disorders are not granted drivers’ licenses unless they have the condition well under control for a period of months or years. Nevertheless, you would be wise to ask this person to submit to a fitness-for-duty evaluation to ensure that she is, in fact, stable with the condition, has been granted driving privileges, etc.
Even so, the risk of a seizure while caring for vulnerable adults may be too great to permit you to employ this person in a position of responsibility. A frank discussion is going to be necessary to determine if you can accommodate this person’s condition. If the employee won’t cooperate, you may have to end his or her employment.