Employers and employees are often on opposite sides of any employment law issue. That does not have to be the case, if both sides work together they can get to a better result. The problem is that getting on the same page can often be difficult.
There is no better example what can go wrong without working together, than a recent lawsuit from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the filing, the plaintiff was removed from a job because of he was unable to work as assigned because of a medical condition. Eventually, he was removed by the staffing agency that had contracted him and was not given another placement.
The most troubling action in the above case is the revelation that the worker provided a doctor’s note when requesting changes to duties or accommodations and they were still refused. Every employer has the right to make judgment calls, but there is a flaw in any judgment that puts a person's health at risk.
When brought any request by an employee, especially one that is accompanied by a doctor's note, employers should:
- Consider the implications of the request and the possible consequences for refusal
- Speak openly with employees about expectations and the requirements of positions
- Provide reasonable accommodations to aid employees in their duties
There is always a chance that a given person is being deceptive with a doctor’s note. However, the possibility is often far removed from reality, and trust is an important part of being an employer.
Working together to get the job done
Employers and employees have a symbiotic relationship when it comes to work. They rely on each other and when that relationship works well, both flourish. When that relationship goes south, you can end up in a difficult legal battle.