Q 1. ) What should you do in response to Eric’s request for “light duty”? Would you grant his request? Why/Why not? Please be specific about the factors you would consider and the potential solutions. The first step in considering if Eric is entitled to a light duty accommodation would be to understand if he is covered under the American Disability Act. To ascertain his eligibility, it is essential to consider if Eric is disabled under ADA and if he can perform all the essential job functions of a Receiver after having accommodated with his request for light duty.
To have a disability under the ADA, a person must have a physical or mental ailment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, have a record of being substantially limited, or regarded as having a disability (Steingold, 2013, p. 234). The case describes employee Eric having diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that alters a person’s walking and speaking ability, which are described under the ADA as major life activities.
The ADA also protects people with a history of a disability, whose illnesses are either cured, controlled or in remission (Steingold, 2013, p. 235). Records indicate that Eric has undergone a surgical procedure for Parkinson’s disease in the year 2012 to alleviate the symptoms of the disease. Thus, it can be inferred that Eric Employee has a disability and is protected under ADA. Steingold (2013) also states that,” To be protected by ADA a person must not only have a disability; the person must also be qualified to do a particular job” (p. 37).
Eric Employee works as a Receiver at Eggsellent Eggs, Inc. where his major responsibilities involve receiving and processing the deliveries, coordinating with suppliers, unloading and stocking of items, the point of sale activities. The job description also mentions about the ability to lift up to 50 lbs. continuously. Although loading and unloading goods up to 50 lbs. are essential functions of the job, but are not the only essential functions and can be accomplished by delegating the task to other staff members.
Eric is an experienced employee who can perform the major essential functions of the job if he would be accommodated with light duty and hence I would take a decision of granting him a light duty accommodation. (Note: I am taking this decision considering the fact that I am not informed by the Manager about customer and supplier complaints and managers decision of delegating Eric’s duties to other employees) Q 2) Assume that Eric remains working for Eggsellent Eggs while your supervisors are reviewing your recommendations about Eric’s request.
In December 2013, Manager approaches you to tell you that he would like to terminate Eric because he cannot lift heavy items, does not troubleshoot equipment, generate reports, or communicate well with customers. Can Manager legally terminate Eric for any or all of these reasons? Please be specific about the factors you must consider when advising Manager. Why/ Why not? (50 points) Based on the details given in the Case, Eric is having difficulties in communicating with the suppliers and customers and is currently having trouble in lifting heavy weight items.
A major chunk of the job responsibilities of a receiver at Eggsellent Eggs Inc. comprises of communicating with the suppliers and customers and handling stock items. Hence, the Manager has a valid reason of the inability of Eric in performing major duties of the job, to terminate Eric. However, considering the current scenario of happenings around his disability, I would advise the Manager to refrain from undertaking any firing decision since there are chances that Eric employee would sue Eggsellent Eggs Inc. for wrongful discharge based on disability discrimination.
I would further explain to the Manager that, Eric has currently asked for a light duty accommodation since he is unable to lift heavy items because of his history of Parkinson’s disease. If we undertake a decision of terminating Eric at this moment this would seem like he is being fired because he asked for an accommodation for his disability and he can sue the grocery company for wrongful discharge. Secondly, the manager had delegated Eric’s work for generating reports and customer interaction to other colleagues at work.
In doing so, he had not informed or communicated with Eric about the decision to fully understand his point of view. In addition, Eric’s performance review for the year was satisfactory, despite the fact that he has been suffering from the disease for the past three years since 2010. This would only mean that the company formulated everything against Eric by delegating his duties to other employees, in a way to highlight Eric’s inability to perform major duties of the job so that he could be terminated easily from the job.
Firing Eric can also mean the breach of good faith and fair dealing. According to Steingold (2013), “Some wrongful discharge cases are based on the premise that every employment relationship includes an automatic commitment by the employer to deal fairly and in good faith with the employee” (p. 262). Thus, it would not be morally right to pursue his termination. Although there have been several complaints from the customers and suppliers, but we do not have valid documents to support the claims.
Thus, if, in case, Eric decides to sue the company, the company would not be able to produce valid documents to prove its stand. Lastly, I would explain that Eric is an experienced employee whose performance has never been an issue until the past few months after he was diagnosed with the disease, it would be morally wrong to let go an employee in his difficult days. We should first communicate our concerns with Eric employee, try to understand his opinions on the difficulties faced by him and the company, and then figure out a solution.