When an employee returns to work with restrictions after an illness, he or she may be disabled and entitled to reasonable ADA accommodations.
Don’t make a mistake and skip the interactive accommodations process, even if you believe no accommodation is possible.
You are still required to consider the possibility before taking action like terminating the employee.
Recent case: Kristy worked as a registered nurse, delivering home health care services for ill clients. She then began training to become a nurse supervisor—a job that required far less travel between clients than her prior position.
Then she had a grand mal seizure at work and was transported to a hospital via ambulance.
She was discharged two days later and returned to work, albeit with a driving restriction and orders not to climb ladders. She also began taking anti-seizure medications.
She arranged for rides to and from work and to client homes as needed and asked for help with the computer as she was adjusting to her meds.
Kristy was fired shortly after she missed a day of work. A supervisor told her the reason was she had become a “liability” for the company.
The EEOC sued on Kristy’s behalf, pointing out that no one from the company had offered any help or held discussions on how her driving restriction and her medication adjustment could be accommodated.
Her former employer argued that driving was an essential function of the job and that there were no accommodations possible.
The court disagreed and said the employer should at least have discussed possible accommodations before discharging her. A jury will now get the case. (EEOC v. LHC Group, No. 13-60703, 5th Cir., 2014)
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