Litigation value: $0.00 provided Dwight reins in his hostility to Nellie’s anxiety meds.
Amidst the costumes, bad investments, and a cappella singers (OMG COLBERT!!!!!), this week’s episode – Here Comes Treble – reminds us that harassment on the basis of disability is just as verboten in the workplace as sex- or race-based harassment. Dwight found a little yellow pill under the sofa and learned it was anxiety medication. So he started hunting for the office “crazy person.” He eventually learned that the medication was Nellie’s and fortunately left it alone after that.
But what if instead Dwight started teasing Nellie for being on anxiety medication? And what if Nellie complained about Dwight to Andy but nothing was done, or worse, Andy joined in the teasing? And what if Dwight’s unremedied teasing made Nellie’s condition worse, even to the point that she could not work anymore?
Courts analyze harassment under the ADA the same way they look at Title VII harassment. In 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed a $300,000 disability harassment verdict for an employee suffering from anxiety in part because he was subject to such constant ridicule about his mental impairment that it caused him to be hospitalized and eventually drove him out of the workplace.
Considering the potential risk, some intensive EEO training would be useful at the Scranton office, but we’ve been recommending that for the past nine seasons to no avail. With just a few episodes left, screw it. Let ‘em harass, discriminate, and retaliate to their heart’s desire. More work for the lawyers!