ADA Guidelines: Be careful when terminating employees with benefit claims

by on December 15, 2008 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

New ADA lawsuits show, you could run afoul of ADA and/or ERISA

Responsible HR people are always looking for ways to save cash on employee benefits.
But getting rid of employees because benefits they’re entitled to are becoming costly is definitely the wrong way.

Sure, we know this. But two recent cases show that the temptation for cost-conscious managers can be too great.

Americans with Disabilities Act Guidelines bump up with the high cost of health care

In an Illinois case, a nurse had dependent coverage on her husband through the hospital where she worked.
The hospital self-insured, so when the husband’s prostate cancer treatment cost $300,000-plus in three years, the nurse’s supervisor got antsy.
Twice in five months, she braced the nurse about the husband’s high medical claims. The supervisor wondered if he should be in less expensive hospice care.
Later, she told employees – including the nurse – that “creative” cost-cutting was needed amid a financial squeeze. Soon after, the nurse was fired.
She claimed in her ADA lawsuit she was axed because of her disabled husband – and an appeals court said a jury should decide if the hospital might have been trying to avoid further big medical bills.

Injured, then fired
In another case, in Arkansas, a laborer hurt his shoulder at work and was fired after he scheduled surgery.

His manager claimed he had abused break privileges, but the worker argued he was really fired because the surgery was going to cost the company. Again, an appeals court said he might have a point, and sent the ADA lawsuit to trial.

ADA Guidelines for Managers
Make sure managers thoroughly document any discipline against employees who are exercising benefit entitlements or are likely to do so.

Cite: Dewitt v. Proctor Hospital,
No. 07-1957, 7th Cir., 2/27/08; Fitzgerald v. Action Inc., No. 07-2199, 8th Cir., 4/4/08.

Issue 6.19 DOP 5-19-08

Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.