Don’t let disability assumptions lead you to believe employee can’t work at all — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Don’t let disability assumptions lead you to believe employee can’t work at all

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in Human Resources

Employers that wrongly regard injured employees as disabled by refusing to consider them for any open positions may be setting themselves up for “regarded as disabled” litigation.

The ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against employees by assuming they are disabled when they are not, and concluding that a condition is so restrictive that the applicant or employee can’t do any job.

Recent case: Russell Parker worked for American Airlines as an aircraft maintenance technician when he fell down the stairs and hurt his knee. Parker became depressed about his injury and began taking anti-depressants and seeing a psychiatrist.

When his physical injuries were healed, he tried to go back to work. But American, noting his prescription drug use, sent him for further evaluation.

Test after test revealed cognitive problems, and American concluded Parker couldn’t return to his prior job even if his body was healed. Then it went further, permanently restricting Parker from performing any American Airlines job, including janitorial services.

Parker sued, alleging that the airline was regarding him as disabled because the airline thought he was incapable of performing a whole host of jobs. The court said the case should go to trial, and a jury should decide whether the airline’s restriction amounted to discrimination based on perceived disability. (Parker v. American Airlines, No. 4:06-CV-694, ND TX, 2008)

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