Friday, June 22, 2007

Anger and Disability

Don't get angry when you read this article by Jonathan Hauer in the Arizona Employment Law Letter. An excerpt:

Relying on both Washington state law and a previous Ninth Circuit ADA case, the court disagreed: "[C]onduct resulting from a disability is part of the disability and not a separate basis for termination."

So if the employee's violent outburst was a consequence of her disorder, it was protected by discrimination laws. The court reasoned that if the employer made a decision to terminate her because of her violent outburst, it was discriminating against her because of her disability.
Now before you become too alarmed by this development, you should be aware of two things. First, the employer in this case forgot to assert a very important defense.

Under the ADA, the "direct threat" doctrine provides a defense when an employer terminates an otherwise protected employee because she poses a threat to the health or safety of others in the workplace.

[NOTE: If you read the entire article, it appears that a key word was omitted in the paragraph describing the employer's argument. The employer was arguing that the termination was not related to the disability.]

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