Do you know how your managers are leading their teams? Many employers have ended up in expensive litigation because of comments made by managers and supervisors.
Front-line managers and supervisors are responsible for a large number of discrimination and retaliation claims, and if you get the Human Resource publications that I do – you know it’s true.
The person who interacts with your employees the most often is probably their supervisor or manager. That’s who they go to when they have a problem, need a day off, or need help with a project. If that person is not well trained on how to respond to requests that could become ADA or EEOC issues, then you have a time bomb waiting to go off.
Let me give you just two examples:
- When an employee said she had a blood disorder that caused her to miss work, a manager allegedly told her that he would not have hired her had he known about the ailment, and that they thought they were hiring a “healthy” individual. Later, the EEOC said the company denied her a reasonable accommodation by telling her that she could not miss any more work until her probation expired, placed her on an involuntary leave of absence, and eventually discharged her despite a doctor’s letter stating she was cleared to work without limitations. This alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), EEOC said.
- Kroger has agreed to pay $40,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a visually impaired man who the EEOC says was unlawfully fired after he requested an accommodation to complete his employee orientation.The grocery store chain offered Michael Haugabrook a job as a courtesy clerk at its Jonesboro, Georgia store in March 2016. Haugabrook accepted the position and requested an accommodation to complete a computer-based portion of his orientation. Kroger’s management refused to accommodate him, the EEOC says. While Haugabrook was completing the assessment, he was called to the store manager’s office and fired.
Both of these examples could have easily been avoided had the manager in charge been properly trained. Do you have a plan in place for when an employee requests time off for a medical procedure, or a recurring illness? Is there a process you follow when an employee asks for an accommodation in order to do their work? How do you train your managers to respond to these requests?
The type of culture that you encourage in your business will help you or hurt you when you have these issues. If your basic culture is one of “our people first”, then the natural reaction is going to be the right one. “How can we help you get through this and what do you need?” should be the first reaction. Even if in your secret heart you’re thinking “oh, man, how can we do without them for 3 weeks??” Outwardly, you’re going to be as pleasant and helpful as you can.
It is your responsibility to know when your company or em-ployees qualify for FMLA or ADA and how to administer these statutes. For more information: Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act
We will discuss ADA and FMLA statutes in our next blog.