This Guy Didn't Need An Accommodation To Perform His Job. He Wanted One To Avoid Discipline

Today, I will tell you about an employee caught sleeping on the job.
United States Employment and HR
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Today, I will tell you about an employee caught sleeping on the job.

Several times.

The first was when three coworkers observed him sleeping at his desk while not on a break, which violated the company's conduct policy. So, with HR's approval, the employee's manager decided to issue him a "Last Chance Agreement." Under the terms of the Agreement, the employee's continued employment with the company was contingent upon following the company's policies for two years.

However, the employee refused to sign the Agreement.

You see, the employee had some medical conditions, including major depression, PTSD, and a diagnosed sleep disorder. To treat his symptoms, the employee took over-the-counter medications that also made him drowsy.

So, the employee asked his manager to "grant [him] an interactive process"—sounds like someone's been to the Law Offices of Google and Bing—before taking disciplinary action that included advanced notice in the form of a full written complaint, a "full evidentiary hearing," a written decision, and an opportunity to appeal.

The employee also sought an opportunity to respond to the Agreement, and his manager agreed.

A week later, the employee sent a written statement to his manager in which he lamented a lack of due process and a violation of the company's ADA policy. He further explained that the medication he took for a bout of food poisoning caused the drowsiness. However, neither the manager nor HR thought the ADA policy applied here.

A few months later, yes, you guessed it, the employee was caught sleeping on the job again. This time, the company fired him. So, the employee brought a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act for a failure to accommodate him.

An employer unlawfully discriminates against a disabled employee when it fails to provide reasonable accommodations for known physical or mental limitations unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer's business. However, the employee has the burden of identifying an accommodation and demonstrating that it is reasonable.

Here, the District Court and the 11th Circuit concluded that the plaintiff never specifically demanded a reasonable accommodation, let alone demonstrate a reasonable one. Critically, the plaintiff denied sleeping on the job and explained that he managed his medical conditions by lying on his back during his breaks. He never asked the defendant to modify any policies or schedules and maintained that he did not need an accommodation. Instead, he thought the Agreement was unfair and wanted the defendant to modify its disciplinary procedures to give him due-process-type protections, which is not a request for reasonable accommodation under the ADA because it does not enable him to perform the essential functions of the job, which he claimed he could already do.

But he couldn't. He slept on the job twice. He got fired. Case dismissed.

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