Each workplace has rules that govern behavior, but enforcing them can be
complex when an employee who behaves improperly has a disability. Should
an employee be punished according to regulations or are they protected
if their disability triggered the misconduct?
When concentrating on misconduct by an employee with a disability, the
first question that must be asked is whether or not a link exists between
the employee’s disability and the behavior. This will help determine
if discipline is lawful.
If an employee with a disability violates a conduct standard that’s
applicable to all workers and their disability
did not play a role in the misconduct, they may be disciplined.
There should be no special treatment for a disabled employee, unless it’s
necessary for their benefit.
However, an employee
can be punished if their disability caused or contributed to the misconduct,
only if certain requirements are met. The conduct standard must be job-related and consistent with business
necessity, and other employees must be held accountable to the same standard,
citing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.
For example, if a customer-facing employee with Tourette Syndrome has uncontrolled
outbursts of “rude” behavior, an employer may have legal grounds
to “discipline” them by moving the employee out of that position
and into one where the disability is not an issue. On the other hand,
a warehouse worker with Tourette Syndrome
should not be disciplined for the same outbursts, since they do not work with customers and are
typically out of the public eye.
An employee with a disability that leads to misconduct can ask for accommodations
to avoid the issue in the future. Ideally, they would disclose their disability
and ask for accommodations before violating a conduct rule for the first
time. This simplifies the process for both the employee and employer.
If you have been treated unfairly at work due to a conduct violation, contact our
Hollister employment law lawyer at Marder Employment Law.
Bill Marder has recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf
of wronged employees in California.
Call (888) 796-4010 or contact us online
to schedule a free consultation.