Monday, August 30, 2010

Disability discrimination and the interactive process
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Rebecca Girn USA
August 11 2010

One of our manufacturing employees, call him Jim, was fairly seriously injured in an accident on the production floor. Jim applied for workers’ compensation and was examined by a doctor. The doctor let us know in his opinion, Jim would no longer be able to perform his job, since it required a significant amount of lifting and bending that he was simply no longer physically capable of doing. Rather than taking immediate action based on the doctor’s opinion, we waited. We thought maybe his condition would improve – Jim was a good employee, and we just didn’t want to do anything too hasty.
Meanwhile, we knew Jim was aware of the doctor’s report that he could not return to his job, but he didn’t get in touch with us to contradict it or to tell us he did want to try to return to work if we could find a way to have him do it. Admittedly, we did not try to contact him either. The months passed, and he never did get in touch with us or communicate that he wanted to return. Finally, 8 months later, we decided it was time to terminate him, since he had shown no signs of wanting to come back to work, even if he could. We sent him a letter enclosing the doctor’s report and explaining that we were forced to terminate employment since he could not perform his job, and there was no other job available.

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