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Unless you’re a doctor, don’t try medical diagnosis

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

A Texas company has agreed to settle a disability bias suit filed by a former employee after the EEOC accused its HR department of playing doctor in violation of the ADA.

Recent case: A workplace chemical aggravated the asthma of a payroll manager at Baker Concrete in Houston. She asked the company to accommodate her by letting her work from home until her flare-ups subsided. Baker told her she was disabled. Then, deciding that the woman’s asthma would only worsen if she ever returned to work, Baker terminated her.

She complained to the EEOC alleging the company violated the ADA by refusing to accommodate her disability. When conciliation efforts failed, the EEOC filed suit in federal court. That’s when Baker elected to settle.

Under the terms, Baker will pay the woman $58,000 in lost wages, provide ADA training to managers and HR staff and draft an ADA policy that specifically allows telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation. (EEOC v. Baker Concrete Construction, Inc., C.A. 4:14-cv-02746, S.D. Texas, 2014; settled 2015)

Note: Chances are, no one in your HR department is an M.D., so no one there is qualified to render a medical prognosis. In this case, Baker’s HR department determined the manager’s condition would never improve. That’s a job for a doctor.

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