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Set clear, fairly enforced rules on behavior to trump ‘my disability made me do it’

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Some employees with genuine disabilities think they can use their health conditions as excuses to break workplace rules regulating behavior.

They can’t, if managers genuinely believe the employee violated the rules, and those rules are clear and equitably enforced.

Recent case: Andrew Kondas, who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression, worked for the U.S. Postal Service.

Kondas apparently didn’t care much for two other employees who were responsible for training programs, because he announced that he didn’t want to attend training if he had to work with them, calling them a derogatory slang for part of the anatomy.

Singling out one of the men, Kondas told his supervisor, “You put me in class with him again and he gets cocky, I’m not responsible for what happens.” He threatened to urinate on some office equipment and “kick anyone’s ass” who interfered.

Citing its strict zero-tolerance policy prohibiting threats or violence, the post office disciplined Kondas.

He sued for disability discrimination, claiming he had been singled out because of his disability, apparently arguing he was entitled to outbursts.

The court didn’t buy it. Kondas couldn’t point to anyone who had made similar threats without being punished. Plus, the court said it was clear supervisors believed Kondas was a threat. Since the rule was fairly enforced in good faith, the case was dismissed. (Kondas v. Potter, No. 08-4015, 3rd Cir., 2009)  

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