So You Want A Bigger Office? Showing Complaining Employee the Door Is Costly

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The newest in what is expected to be a long line of new cases to be filed under the revised ADA is the “cubicle case.” A worker at the University Medical Center in Nevada was fired for being unable to perform her job after she complained that her confined workspace caused her psychological distress due to her claustrophobia. Rather than go to trial, the county settled with the worker for $150,000.

While many are poking fun at the case and it is making headlines across the HR blogosphere, the case serves as a stark wake-up call for employers.

No longer, can you say to an employee, “If you don’t like the working conditions here, you may choose to leave.” If an employee has a workplace complaint that could be linked to a health condition, you must ask yourself as the employer, “Do I have a need to accommodate this request?” In the Nevada situation, the employee had debilitating claustrophobia. She claimed the employer refused her request to move her to a more open area.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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