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Incompetent HIV+employee who is threatening to sue
Mar 26, 2003

I work with a small not for profit organization that provides homes and community for adults with developmental disabilities. All "staff" live in the homes with these adults with dd. About six months ago, a man was hired into the community as a live in staff. Soon after moving in, he began dropping hints about wasting away diseases and blood cancers. About three months ago, this man began leaving during his shifts and retiring to his room without telling anyone. He has had several frightening outburst directed at other staff, and also has had fits of rage in front of the developmentally disabled adults. Most recently, he has again, left these men unsupervised without notice to anyone else, and has failed to even show up for shifts resulting in a number of problems for the household. He flashed a doctor's note in my face that stated that due to issues of fatigue he could not work more than four hours a week--he never showed this to our boss and when asked by her if he needed special consideration with scheduling due to his illness, he screamed at her and scolded her for asking, saying that it had nothing to do with his health and he did not need anything special. A few days ago, during an outburst, he blurted out that he had aids and was tired. I encouraged him to tell his supervisor. He notified her about his hiv+ status and has since then had several more outbursts, failed to give proper medication during one of his shifts and left the group home during one of his shifts without telling anyone. Our supervisor is trying to take disciplinary measures with this person based on his job performance and his endagerment of our clients. This person is threatening to involve his lawyers and claims he has done nothing wrong--that he is sheltered by the ADA.


Response from Ms. Breuer

Please do not allow yourself to be held hostage by this out of control employee. The ADA is not job insurance. It is guidance for employers on accommodating disabilities in employees who are fulfilling all of the essential functions of the job. It cannot protect employees who are not fulfilling all the expectations of the job, and are behaving in ways that endanger your clients.

I certainly hope you have reports in this man's file about his unacceptable behavior over these three months, just in case he does hire a lawyer, which I tend to doubt. He should not "flash" that physician's note to you; he should give it to you. If he won't, you haven't received it and cannot be expected to act in accordance with it.

Whatever your normal process is to counsel an unacceptable employee and warn him of impending termination, begin it now. His failure to appear for shifts, failure to give necessary medication and leaving vulnerable clients without care is grounds for immediate termination, I would think. You have already tolerated far more than you should, if you frame this in terms of how you would respond if any other employee acted this way.

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