Don’t let a disabled employee get away with behavior you wouldn’t tolerate in other employees. There’s no reason to put up with threats and intimidation.
As the following case shows, disciplining an employee shortly after he’s requested accommodations is fine as long as you can show the disciplinary reason is legitimate and based on something other than his request.
Recent case: Michael, who has a hearing impairment, received numerous reprimands at work. He filed an EEOC complaint alleging failure to accommodate his objection to having to work near a particular kind of truck. The employer rejected his request because the trucks were essential to his position and told Michael to use hearing protection.
Shortly afterward, Michael was involved in a heated argument with a co-worker. An investigation revealed Michael had repeatedly threatened his co-workers and their families with physical violence. The employer fired him for the threats.
Michael sued, alleging that he had really been fired in retaliation for requesting an accommodation.
The court disagreed. It concluded that the employer had legitimate reasons for disciplining Michael that weren’t related to his accommodation request. While discipline shortly after a request may indicate retaliation, in this case it was clear that Michael was caught in an argument, which precipitated an investigation that revealed multiple threats. That cut any connection between the accommodations request and his firing. (Curley v. City of North Las Vegas, No. 12-16228, 9th Cir., 2014)
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