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Practical Exercise / Human Resources

Mr. X has worked for your company for four years; you are his supervisor during this time. You have heard from other employees that Mr. X claims he has some type of mental problems which tend to come and go, but he has never formally mentioned it to you or management. A few days ago, while receiving constructive criticism from his supervisor, Mr. X became very upset, threw a chair at a wall within two feet of hitting you, his supervisor and he stated to you, "You are always on my back, if you do not let up you will be sorry because I will make you pay." Then Mr. X stormed off the job. The next morning Mr. X and his lawyer have approached you with a written letter that demanded a reasonable accommodation for his mental condition, which they claim to be qualified under the ADA.

The accommodation request indicates that Mr. X failed to take his medication for a few days before the incident and his bi-polar psychiatric condition caused him to throw the chair and speak angry threatening words to his supervisor. Mr. X's proposed accommodation is to obtain the employer's tolerance for his actions of yelling and throwing the chair (no discipline) and to obtain the employer's assistance in giving him a less stressful working environment (his request specifically includes a request for a change of supervisors to one that is less demanding). Because his mental condition caused the outburst, they claim that if the employer does not accept his accommodation request would violate the American with Disabilities Act as discrimination against someone with a mental disability.

What do you do and say?

Does your reply change depending on the type of job and what type of access Mr. X has to customers?

Does the direct threat doctrine affect your response?

Just as you were getting ready to answer Mr. X and his lawyer, they give you another request that is for immediate leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. This request indicates that Mr. X has been under the care of a Doctor for his mental condition on an ongoing basis. He wants to take intermittent leave on Friday afternoon, Monday mornings and the afternoon before holidays. He claims the anticipation of the absence from work causes him anxiety and he needs to rest.

What do you think?

Would your answer change if he were asking for time to go to psychiatric counseling every week?

How are you going to respond to these issues?

Solution Summary

By responding to the questions related to the two scenarios, the solution explores cases related to the Family Medical Leave Act and the American with Disabilities Act.