HR Home Forums Community Termination of a Worker with Disability

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  • Conner Lantz
    Post count: 4836

    An obese worker in Alberta hired 6 years ago to fulfill a plumbing parts manager position working at medium level (lifting maximum 50 lbs, loading and unloading vehicles, and doing pick up and parts deliveries) health condition regresses in year 5 where the manager has gained weight, diagnosed with diabetes, has permanent lower back pain, and peripheral neuropathy. While the manager was struggling and seeing the doctor about the illnesses, we hired another worker to help them with their duties as the manager was only able to work at a sedentary level. The managers was supported with a second worker for about 5 months. The manager was no longer able to go up and down stairs to the one of the parts areas either. While the manger was seeking medical attention for his physical ailments he was signed off work for mental illness. The manager was off work for 5 months, and just returning. Due to de-conditioning, we asked the manager to attend a health assessment to determine fitness for work, so we could gradually modify the work until the manager could progress back to full duties. The manager did not pass the pre-assessment questionnaire and their doctor has sent a letter letting us know the manager is unable to complete the assessment nor work at his date of hire physical demands level. The manager is now fit for sedentary work only. The job is evolving to maintain inventory using new software systems in which the manager refuses to learn and wants to maintain the old systems as they are not comfortable using computers. Two things, we can sustain the wages of a second worker to support the manager for a short term. The manager position was intended to be independent. At what point does it become undue hardship when the manager is no longer able to do date of hire duties? He is unable to go up and down stairs, he is unable to lift nor get in and out of a truck to do deliveries as wells load and load the truck. Second, we have considered moving the manager to another sedentary position but the manager does not want to learn the new computer systems. Is it possible to terminate without cause a worker who has a permanent disability that is unwilling to learn new systems within the company to be able to work at a sedentary level? What are the risks to the employer for lawsuit of the manager is terminated?

    Conner Lantz
    Post count: 4836

    Your duty to accommodate definitely looks as if it has been significantly exhausted.

    Under accommodation laws, the employee also has to be willing to, at the very least, attempt to meet some of the changes/modifications proposed.

    It would appear that you are willing to absorb the additional costs, and have already. It would also appear that you are willing to transition the employee to a role that would meet these new physical limitations. Lastly, it would also appear that you are willing to invest in the employee to have them meet the new computer skills that would be necessary to work in the newly implemented systems.

    The employee in question has been unwilling to accept the new reality. It would appear they want to do everything that was their old job, just none of the physical part – so half the job for all the pay.

    I assume that in all this time, the employee has and will not have any significant change in compensation.

    Based on all of these facts, as you have presented them, it would seem that you have a very strong case for termination of employment and have met the conditions of accommodation.

    However, we would recommend that you approach the employee saying this is what you are able to offer, that you believe you have and would be meeting the duty to accommodate, and that any further changes would put undue hardship on the business.

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