Friday, December 19, 2014

What if he doesn't take his drugs?

What about this scenario? A company hires an excellent tech worker who does a great job, but then decides, for whatever reason, to go off the drugs that keep his bipolar tendencies in check. Weirdness at work ensues and the excellent worker isn't able to do his job in the same way. Now what? Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, if a person's disability was "mitigated," by some means, say drugs, then the person wouldn't be considered disabled and wouldn't qualify for accommodations and wouldn't be able to sue for discrimination. New amendments to the bill now broaden the definition of disabled and change how this idea of "mitigation" should be applied.

What if he doesn't take his drugs?

What about this scenario? A company hires an excellent tech worker who does a great job, but then decides, for whatever reason, to go off the drugs that keep his bipolar tendencies in check. Weirdness at work ensues and the excellent worker isn't able to do his job in the same way. Now what? Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, if a person's disability was "mitigated," by some means, say drugs, then the person wouldn't be considered disabled and wouldn't qualify for accommodations and wouldn't be able to sue for discrimination. New amendments to the bill now broaden the definition of disabled and change how this idea of "mitigation" should be applied.

What's happening now is that commissioners from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are traveling around the country to listen to various concerns about proposed regulations that will govern how the amendments are applied. In Friday, they were joined in Philadelphia by some officials from the U.S. Department of Justice. Among the speakers was management lawyer Sarah Bouchard, an attorney from Morgan Lewis, a Philadelphia law firm.

What happens, she asks, if the employee "refuses to take the appropriately-prescribed medication?" Or what if the employee says he can't afford the medication?

"This is a real concern for employers," she said, speaking about conditions such as bipolar disorder or ADHD. "Pre-amendment, a lot of these wouldn't have been disabilities.".

"We believe the regulation should make clear that an individual is no longer qualified for that position if he refuses to take a reasonable accommodation."

I have to tell you that I'm grateful to this blog, because I never have enough room in my articles to write much of what I report. 

Tomorrow the jobs numbers come out and we'll see, unfortunately, how little the economy has moved. Personally, I don't care what the stock market does. Jobs matter. Period. And not just any jobs. They've got to pay enough for people to live, not scrimp. Double period.       

About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
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