Q. One of our employees recently shouted at his supervisor, and in doing so violated a work rule. In the course of counseling and disciplining—but not discharging—this employee stated for the first time that he has a disorder which might have caused his conduct. May we still discipline this employee?
A. The ADA prohibits discrimination against a qualified employee with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual. Based on the facts presented, if the employee has a disability, it is unlikely that imposing discipline for his actions would violate the ADA, provided that the work rule was job-related and consistent with business necessity, and the punishment was consistent with discipline imposed upon other employees for similar work-rule violations.
If an accommodation is requested, the employer should engage in the interactive process to assess whether and to what extent a reasonable accommodation would allow the employee to meet expected standards of conduct in the future.
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