Up Next on Destination Checkbook: Firing a bipolar employee for “her mental illness”

Allegedly, of course.

Doe worked Directions for Youth and Families, Inc. Doe is bipolar and communicated as much to her employer, which eventually fired Doe.

Want to know why?

Why, Eric?

Welp, here’s the quote from Doe v. Directions for Youth and Families, Inc. (opinion here):

At their August 2014 meeting, the CEO told Plaintiff something to the effect of: “[L]et’s be human here. I know all about the ADA and everything[,] . . . [but] [d]ue to the unpredictable and sporadic nature . . . of your mental illness[,] . . . we can’t have you working with this population,” and that DYF “can’t have [her] walking in and out of these clients’ lives.”

Let’s ask WWE-legend announcer Jim Ross what he thinks of that.

(Lest anyone think this is what Jim Ross really thinks, that’s totally farcical. But, there was that time that the Undertaker threw Mankind off the top of the Hell in the Cell…)

But, seriously, what would compel an employer to say something (allegedly) like this?

And could this be considered “direct evidence” of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

What do you think, Stone Cold Steve Austin?

(People, this is an actual law blog from a real lawyer)

Now, what say you, Judge Algenon L. Marbley?

Defendant argues that this is not direct evidence of discrimination because Casares did not explicitly mention her bipolar disorder. The Court disagrees…. [A]ccording to Defendant’s understanding, an employer telling a black employee that she was being terminated because of her race would not be direct evidence of discrimination because the employer did not mention the employee’s race…. That cannot be the case. Here, an employer told an employee with bipolar that she was being terminated because of her mental illness. Terminating an employee who is believed to have bipolar disorder (and no other mental illness) because of her mental illness is necessarily terminating that employee because she has bipolar. 

Most employers don’t discriminate, which is good. But, if you’re one of the bad ones who discriminate, maybe, don’t come out and admit it to the person that you’re firing.

Now, I want to emphasize that I’m not saying that Directions for Youth and Families, Inc. is one of the bad ones. Remember that these are just allegations, and a trial looms at which I jury will ultimately decide whether this employer violated the ADA.

But, if you find yourself in a situation where an employee’s disability, with or without accommodation, renders her unable to perform the essential, you tell her that she is being terminated because she cannot do the job. That’s it.

You don’t mention the disability — or any other protected class.

Cause that’s the bottom line; cause Stone Cold said so.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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