Case 10: He’s Just Not the Same
Case 10 (continued)
He’s Just Not the Same
Bill Connor, 47, has been with Bay State Service Corporation for 11 years. About four years ago,
Bill was promoted from the Transportation Department to the mail room. The mail room job
involved lifting and carrying boxes of supplies for distribution throughout the organization. For
three years, Bill consistently did an acceptable job in this capacity.
Last year, during a vacation camping trip, Bill broke his leg and ankle in a nasty fall. The
doctor who set his leg told him he needed five weeks’ rest. However, just before returning to
work, Bill called and notified his boss, Ken Pierce, that he had to stay out a little longer because
the leg was not mending properly.
When he did return to work, Bill could not maintain his pre-injury pace of lifting and deliv-
ery. Eventually, he had to wear a leg brace and use a cane. His boss gave him as much desk work
as possible, but a backlog of undelivered materials began to build up. Other employees in the mail
room are now complaining that they are working harder and making less money than Bill.
Bill has a performance appraisal due in three months. His supervisor would like to just tell
him the truth and terminate his employment. Short of that, he would like to suggest that Bill be
given a transfer, although he is not optimistic that a transfer can be arranged.
Answers to Case Questions
1. What legal regulations apply to this situation?
The applicable laws affecting disabled employees do exempt smaller and nonfederal contracto
employers. While it is not clear what Bay State Service’s exact size and nature is, for this case i
will be assumed that Bay State is covered by these laws.
There are two main laws that could apply. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 generally prohibits
employment practices that discriminate on the basis of disability. The Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 extends that basic protection by detailing certain procedures fo
adjusting employment to accommodate workers with disabilities. There may be state or local
laws that apply also.
Under these laws, a person is considered disabled if (in part) that person has a physical impair-
ment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. In this case, Bill would clearly be
considered as having a disability. Consequently, he would be protected by these laws.
2. Can Ken Pierce (Bill’s supervisor) legally fire Bill?
This is something of a trick question. Under the general provisions of the Employment-at-Will
Doctrine, an employer has the right to hire and fire at will, so in that sense, Ken does have the
right to fire Bill. However, in this case, Bill enjoys certain protections that, if violated, could
e legally contested. Ken’s preferable course of action would be to follow the legally define
guidelines, which could end up in Bill’s termination.