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ADA: Don’t Fire Disabled Employees Who Already Do The Job

by | Dec 29, 2022 | Disability Discrimination, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Retaliation, Wrongful Termination |

For today’s employment discrimination blog, our employee’s rights lawyers look at the situation that JDKD Enterprises, L.P. found itself in recently. JDKD is a McDonald’s franchisee operating in New Jersey. It fired a grill cook who has autism spectrum disorder. The grill cook filed claim of disability discrimination.

What laws protect disabled workers from discrimination?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) is a federal law that protects employees from workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination because the employee has an actual or perceived disability, or because the employee reported or opposed such conduct. Additionally, the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations that will allow employees to perform their jobs

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What qualifies as a disability under the ADA?

To qualify as having an actual disability under the ADA, the employee must establish either that he/she/they (1) has been diagnosed with a physical or mental impairment or medical condition that “substantially limits” one or more “major life activities”; (2) has a record of such impairment; or (3) is regarded as” having such an impairment. 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2).

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How do I prove that I was fired because of my disability?

To state a wrongful termination case under the ADA, an employee must either present direct evidence of discrimination or, alternatively, that: (1) the employer is subject to the ADA; (2) the employee has or perceived to have a disability as defined by the ADA; (3) the employee is otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of the employee’s job with or without reasonable accommodation; and (4) the employee suffered an adverse employment action, which for a wrongful termination case would be getting fired. The employer then has the opportunity to state a legitimate nondiscriminatory  reason for firing the employee. If the employee can then rebut the employer’s stated reason by showing that that it is not true or did not actually motivate the employer, the employee has successfully proven disability discrimination under the ADA.

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How do I prove that I was “otherwise qualified” to perform the job?

To prove that an employee is “otherwise qualified” to perform the job, the employee present evidence that he/she/they satisfy the legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements necessary to perform the central functions of the job. Courts will look to the employer’s written job descriptions or posted job descriptions prepared prior to any disability or accommodation issues arising as evidence of the legitimate job requirements to be qualified for the position. Of course, the best way to demonstrate that an employee is “otherwise qualified” to perform the job is when the employee has already performed the job.

This brings us back to JDKD’s firing of the autistic grill cook. You see, the grill cook worked at McDonald’s for 37 years, including for almost ten years at a McDonald’s restaurant in question. In recognition of is ongoing outstanding work performance, his employer repeatedly recognized the grill cook with various awards and accolades. What changed that caused the termination? JDKD ought the franchise and took over operational control. Only two months later, it fired the autistic grill cook. Certainly, it is nearly impossible for the employer to argue that an employee is not otherwise qualified to do the same job that he has been excelling at for nearly four decades.

Recognizing its log odds, the employer quickly settled the lawsuit for $100,000 and agreed to provide additional consideration.

When an employer has an employee that reliably shows up to work and dutifully performs his job functions, please do not fire that employee because his disability annoys a manager.

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What should I do after being fired because I’m disabled?

Best Disability Discrimination Lawyer Answer: No one who is capable of doing their job should be fired because they have a disability. That’s called wrongful termination. If you have been wrongfully fired, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, or denied a job because you have a disability, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. (Best Law Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?; Why Having Skilled Employment Attorneys Is Critical; Employment Law: Avoid Hiring The Wrong Attorney).  

The best option is not to wait. Call our lawyers now. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting wrongly fired workers like you.

Disclaimer:

The material on this employment law website are an advertisement. The information in this disability discrimination and ADA blog and on this employee’s rights website are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide you with legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, attorney, Brian Spitz or any individual attorney.