When strict taskmasters push subordinates too hard, ADA lawsuits can ensue

by on December 16, 2008 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Costly ADA lawsuits ensue if employees break down mentally due to employer treatment

The company can liable for ADA lawsuits if supervisors “ride” their subordinates so hard they break down.

In an ADA lawsuit from Utah, an employee and his supervisor had a bad history that went back a decade, when the latter refused to work under the former.

When the roles were reversed, the supervisor “rode” the employee so hard that, allegedly, the worker’s health deteriorated. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and allegedly lost control of his bladder and bowels.

The employee filed an ADA lawsuit, and the court said his case was strong enough to go to trial.

An ADA lawsuit from Arkansas revolved around a supervisor would quiz an employee about minutiae in the bulky daily operations report, and ridicule him if he couldn’t answer. The employee had a nervous breakdown and, before returning to work, insisted on having an agenda for meetings with the supervisor so he wouldn’t be surprised.

The company claimed it would be too costly to prepare the agendas he wanted.

The employee sued for disability discrimination under the ADA. A jury awarded him thousands of dollars in lost wages and compensatory damages for the employer’s failure to accommodate him under ADA requirements

Strict, not vindictive
Managers have to walk a fine line. Sometimes recalcitrant employees need strict supervision.

But when strictness crosses the line into vindictiveness, causing severe mental distress, legal trouble isn’t far away.

Cite: Battle v. UPS, Nos. 04-4123/04-4128, 8th Cir., 2/21/06. Jirsa v. Utah DOT, 2:03CV00425, D. Utah, 3/7/06.

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