When Can You Fire a Disabled Worker?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. We've had a disabled worker on staff for five years. He's consistently absent or tardy and has trouble working with others and keeping up his job duties. We adjusted his hours, but his poor work forced us to reassign some of his duties and even hire another person to help carry the load. What can we do? —F.F., Texas

A. First, you have to determine whether this employee is truly “disabled” under the ADA. Don't assume that a serious health condition is a disability; the two can be very different things. If an employee isn't covered, you don't have to make special accommodations.

If an employee is disabled under the ADA, determine whether he is able to do the essential tasks of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. If he can't perform the essential job functions even with accommodation, you usually don't have to keep him on the staff.

Also, remember that the ADA doesn't require you to forgive an employee's misconduct as a reasonable accommodation, even if the misconduct is the result of a disability. For a definition of disability and more on the ADA, go to www.eeoc.gov/facts/adaqa1.html.

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