Avoiding Disability Liability Situations

Avoiding Disability Liability Situations
  • Post last modified:June 2, 2020
  • Post Category:IC/ISP Contractors

At Paradiso Insurance and Parcel Safety Program, we want to make sure our FedEx and Amazon Contractors are prepared for anything that comes their way. We feel that if you’re properly prepared, then you don’t have to worry about claims or liabilities. We want to keep your insurance premium as low as possible! Today we’d like to briefly discuss the rights of disabled employees so that you don’t make any mistakes in the future.

What is considered a disability?

There is a fine line between what is and what is not considered a disability. Some are permanent, and a bit more obvious, while at the same time, others may be only temporary. It can be extremely hard to tell if a person is actually disabled or simply injured. It can be even more difficult to tell if someone has a mental disability, as the person may not show any outward signs of being disabled. 

Here’s a list of the most commonly known disabilities so you can get an idea of who could potentially be protected:

  • Autism
  • Chronic/Psychological/Mental Illnesses (Anxiety, Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism, Asperger’s Bipolar, Alcohol/Drug Addiction, Organic Brain Syndrome, Panic Attacks)
  • Vision Loss or Blindness
  • Hearing Loss or Deafness
  • Learning Disability or Memory Loss
  • Physical Disability
  • Speech or Language Disorders
  • Cardiovascular disorders (Heart Failure, Coronary Artery Disease, High Blood Pressure)
  • Disorders of the Digestive System, Endocrine System, or Genitourinary Systems
  • Miscellaneous – Chronic Pain, Chronic Migraines
  • Musculoskeletal Impairments
  • Cancer
  • Neurological Disorders (Seizures, Strokes, Traumatic Brain Injury)
  • Respiratory Disorders (Sleep Apnea, Emphysema, Asthma)
Employee Rights Employment Equality Job People Meeting Concept

Why is this all so Important?

While it may not seem like it’s all that important, your business could potentially be in danger if you don’t educate yourself on disability law. If you terminate an employee or even refuse to hire someone, based on the knowledge that they have a disability, then you could potentially face severe legal consequences. 

If you’re considering terminating an employee due to a disability, the proper solution is to accommodate the employee in their work environment so that their disability does not hold them back. An example of a reasonable accommodation would be to allow an employee who is seizure prone to do their job without a computer. Accommodations like this one must be deemed “reasonable” or “unreasonable” on a case by case basis, so use proper judgment or seek legal advice when making these personnel decisions.  

When can you terminate a disabled employee?

The only case in which you can terminate a disabled employee is if the courts agree that it’s completely unreasonable to accommodate them within their position. With this being said, remember that you can’t specifically ask about someone’s disabilities during the interview process; the only way you can know if they’re disabled is if they freely volunteer the information themselves. If there is ever any question of what could be considered a disability and you aren’t sure how to handle it, be sure to seek additional information online or from someone qualified to provide HR advice. 

Generally speaking, an employee is protected (according to the Americans with Disabilities Act) based on:

  • A physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits” one or more “major life activities”
  • A record of such an impairment
  • A person is regarded as having such an impairment

Remember, it is reasonable to terminate a disabled employee on an “at-will” basis for reasons such as disobeying rules within a signed employee handbook or failure to meet job responsibilities and requirements. Just make sure you’re absolutely positive that the termination has nothing to do with the employee’s disability. Be careful of wrongful termination, or refusal to hire for that matter, and always try to accommodate your employees with disabilities whenever possible. We hate to see our customers face claims and liabilities, so make sure you follow all of the proper legal standards when it comes to dealing with your employees.