Some workers who learn they’re about to be disciplined or even fired for poor behavior may try to use an alleged disability as an excuse.
But if they never revealed before that they have a disability, it’s too late to try that tactic on the eve of being punushed.
Recent case: Chris, who is white, worked as a supervisor at UPS. During a trash-talking conversation with three black co-workers—all supervisors—Chris made comments that were deemed racist.
Here’s what allegedly happened: One of the black supervisors commented about another employee by saying he hoped the employee would “take a swing at me and I would knock that mother*****r out.”
Chris then allegedly said, “If he ever hit me, I would hit him back so hard it’d knock the black off him.”
When told his comment was grounds for discharge, Chris said he had made a mistake and hadn’t meant to say anything that could be construed as racist.
He then claimed that he had a disability and that he had taken medication that contributed to his misbehavior. He asked UPS to give him a second chance as a reasonable accommodation for his alleged disability. UPS refused and fired him for breaking its rules against harassing behavior.
Chris sued, alleging failure to accommodate his disability.
But the court tossed out his claim, explaining that there is no right to a second-chance reasonable accommodation if the employee didn’t identify the disability or request accommodations before facing imminent discipline. (Schaffhauser v. United Parcel Service, No. 14-1279, 8th Cir., 2015)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Lost security clearance ends chance to sue for bias
- Employees criticizing the firm? Where to draw the line
- Only truly outrageous conduct can add up to intentional infliction of emotional distress
- When misbehavior demands termination, it's best to stick with one reason for firing