Even though employers must maintain confidentiality when a disabled employee receives ADA accommodations, other employees are bound to notice. For example, they might ask how the employee got a good schedule or even if she has a disability.
That doesn’t amount to disability harassment. If the disabled employee complains, simply let all employees know that any medical information is confidential and that no one should ask anyone about their private affairs.
Recent case: Sharon Dooley was diagnosed with narcolepsy and had trouble waking up in the morning. She asked for an accommodation and was allowed to pick her start time. Several co-workers asked her why, and she explained her illness.
Then she sued her employer, claiming it allowed her to be harassed by co-workers. The court disagreed, since none of the questions or comments was offensive. (Dooley v. Abbott Laboratories, No. 07-C-7249, ND IL, 2009)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Manager who did the hiring also should do the firing
- Adopt an anti-harassment policy and plan—before workplace malice gets out of hand
- Notice date--not workers' last day--starts lawsuit calendar
- Warn top brass: Avoid appearance of impropriety