Can your employer terminate you if you have heart disease and/or diabetes but can still do the essential functions of your job?
Demyanovich v. Cadon Plating and Coatings, LLC, 747 F.3d 419 (6th Cir. 2014). A machine operator on a production line was terminated after requested leave related to a heart condition and diabetes. The court found that employee’s heart condition and diabetes substantially limited major life activities including standing, walking, and bending, and that there was sufficient evidence to create a fact issue for a jury on the question of whether he was qualified to work as a machine operator.
Noting that a written job description and the employer’s judgment constitute evidence of whether a particular job function is essential, the court said that although the written job description for the machine operator position included loading and unloading equipment and visually inspecting the product as it moved along the production line, it included no lifting or other physical fitness requirements. Although the person who terminated employee testified at his deposition that the machine operator’s job required several physically exerting tasks that employee was no longer capable of performing at the time of employee’s deposition, there was no evidence that employee was unable to perform these tasks at the time he was terminated. In fact, the person who terminated employee testified that he was not terminated for performance issues and that he had been performing satisfactorily.
In El Paso Texas many employees are subject to wrongful termination when they become disabled and the employer decides they can’t do the job. Many times the employer will find other reasons to terminate the employee (disciplinary actions) when the real reason is that they want to rid themselves of an injured or disabled employee. Many times the employer will attempt to force the employee to take FMLA leave (which will only last 12 weeks) even though the employee can still perform the essential functions of the job. If this happens you should seek out a board certified employment attorney to advise you on your options. You should try and seek out an El Paso employment lawyer prior to your termination but even if it is after your employment you should seek out a competent employment lawyer as soon as practicable because there are strict time limits that can preclude you from taking action if you don’t take action (such as filing a claim with the EEOC or the Texas Commission on Human Rights).