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Worker acting strangely? Request evaluation

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in Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Preventing Workplace Violence

If you think a worker could benefit from psychological help and fear that he may pose a danger to himself or others, you can require an evaluation.

Recent case: Gerald worked for East Penn, a Pennsylvania battery manufacturer, as a machine operator. He complained that someone was vandalizing his car. He declined his manager’s offer to let him park in a different lot.

Soon after, he filed an EEOC discrimination complaint.

Meanwhile, Gerald’s behavior be-gan to seem paranoid to co-workers and supervisors. For example, he claimed someone had read his locker combination over his shoulder and was now opening it and stealing things, such as newspapers. Gerald also alleged that “hundreds” of people were following him home, co-workers were spying on him at home and that someone had reported to the police that he was committing crimes.

East Penn’s employee assistance program offered counseling and fitness-for-duty evaluations. It had ordered workers to participate in the past and wanted Gerald to do so, too.

He refused to sign a release that would provide the counselor’s verification he had attended an evaluation. When Gerald was fired, he added retaliation to his EEOC claim.

The court tossed out his case. It reasoned that East Penn hadn’t targeted Gerald for retaliation, but was merely enforcing an existing policy that it had used in the past to get employees evaluated. Gerald was therefore legitimately fired for refusing to follow the rules, not because he had filed an earlier EEOC complaint. (Kamau v. East Penn Manufacturing, No. 13-1914, 3rd Cir., 2014)

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