Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorney Answer: What if I have a medical condition that makes it difficult for me to stay awake? Do my job duties determine whether or not my employer has to accommodate my disability? What should I do if I was fired today when I fell asleep because of my medication for my disability?
At The Spitz Law Firm, LLC, our employment lawyers understand that balancing a serious medical condition with a job can be extremely difficult. Certainly that includes medical conditions and disabilities that make staying awake at work hard. However, it is understandable, especially for certain jobs, that your employer has an expectation that you stay awake during work hours. In a situation where an employee is suffering from a disability that affects his or her ability to stay awake, what is the employer required to do and can an employer fire that employee for falling asleep? As our employment lawyers have blogged about previously, all employees are protected under Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA“) and Ohio’s R.C. § 4112.02(A) from being discriminated against, retaliated against, or wrongfully terminated by their employers on the basis of their actual or perceived disability. (See Can I Be Denied A Job Because Of Prescribed Medications?; Is Alcoholism A Disability Under The ADA?; Can My Boss Block Deaf Workers From Operating Machinery?; and My Employer Is Discriminating Against Me Based On My Disability.)
Moreover, The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who, either with or without such accommodations, are qualified to “perform the essential functions of the employment position.” (See Can I Get A Work Accommodation?; ADA Law: How Do I Get A Disability Accommodation At Work?; Can I Get A Disability Accommodation?; and Can I Bring A Service Dog To Work As A Disability Accommodation Under The ADA?)
Under the ADA, is a person who has trouble staying aware able to “perform the essential functions of the employment position”? A recent case, Schulman v. Wynn Las Vegas, LLC out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt with an employee at the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel and Casino who disclosed to his employer that he had Type 1 diabetes prior to being hired. The employee, Jeffrey Schulman, was a security guard and was forced to work the night shift. Working the night shift caused problems for Schulman, since it was difficult for him to stay awake due to his disability. Nine months into his employment at Wynn, Schulman gave his employer a doctor’s note stating that due to his disability, he should be moved to the day shift to help with his issue of staying awake at work.
Wynn refused to move Schulman to the day shift and three months after his request, Schulman was caught sleeping on the job. Wynn suspended him and again required Schulman to present a doctor’s note stating that he was able to perform the essential functions of his job. Schulman’s doctor told Wynn that Schulman could perform the essential functions, but only if he was moved to a day shift. Wynn again refused to accommodate Schulman, but eventually agreed to move him to a non-security position due to the obvious hazard of a security guard falling asleep while on duty.
After moving him to a different position, Wynn ended up terminating Schulman for “poor performance.” Schulman then sued Wynn claiming that Wynn committed disability discrimination and violated the ADA by failing to accommodate him when Wynn refused to move Schulman to a day shift to accommodate his diabetes.
Unfortunately for Schulman, the trial court awarded judgment to Wynn on all counts and held that employers don’t have to grant the exact accommodation request made by an employee and failing to do so does not provide the basis for a disability discrimination claim. The court also held that “remaining awake is a business necessity for any employee, especially a security guard.
The trial court’s decision to award judgment to Wynn was upheld by the appellate court. Whether or not this spells doom for all employees with disabilities that cause difficulty staying awake is unclear. Of course, Schulman faced an uphill battle because staying awake is clearly an essential function of a security guard. If Schulman had a job where falling asleep due to a disability would be less impactful, the outcome may have been different. If Schulman had a job where non-disabled employees regularly fell asleep without consequence, it also may have been a different story.
Bottom line, even though Schulman lost his battle against Wynn, if you are having issues with a disability and/or medical condition that is causing you issues at work, it is incumbent that you contact an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible. It may be a situation where the employer is allowed to deny an accommodation or even get rid of you, but it is always better to have an employment attorney on your side.
Having to live with a disability is difficult enough without worrying about the effect it may have on your job. If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our Ohio employment law attorneys at 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. The Spitz Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
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