I tell you, folks.
When a school janitor, the plaintiff in this case, claimed that the school principal uttered the words in the lede above, I felt a stirring within.
Literally, the second those words (allegedly) formed on the principal’s lips, my
Spidey Bloggy-senses told me that I’d be able to usher in the new year with a fine blog post.
Comin’ atcha after the jump…
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Here’s the back story.
After receiving a good performance review, a school janitor had some disciplinary issues at work stemming from his inability to communicate with others (e.g., violating chain of command, harsh language). Now, add in that the janitor suffered from Asperber’s syndrome, which, at some point, he learned potentially qualified as a disability and could have played a role in his communication issues. So, he goes to the principal to discuss and, yadda, yadda, yadda, his contract isn’t renewed and the principal allegedly tells him, “Your Asperger’s got in the way of your ability to interact with your boss, and we are tired of it.”
In its analysis of the plaintiff’s claim, the court offered little resistance to the plaintiff’s claim that he suffered from a disability. Indeed, the plaintiff produced an expert report which stated that his Asperger’s Disorder “substantially limit[s] one or more of his major life activities, including but not limited to: learning, concentrating, thinking, communicating and social interaction.”
As to the alleged statement from the principal, the court concluded that it was direct evidence of discriminatory animus. Heck, even if the plaintiff’s Asperger’s wasn’t an actual disability, the statement supported a claim of disability discrimination based on a perceived disability.
So, oh by gosh by golly, make a New Year’s resolution not to do what this employer allegedly did.
On a side note, in this case, the employee’s failure to accommodate claim failed because he never affirmatively requested an accommodation.
Friends, although the onus may be on the employee to request an accommodation, when an employee comes to you and discloses a disability, there’s nothing wrong with taking an affirmative step to inquire if the employee requires a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job.