Employers wanting to raise job performance standards must do so in a “thoughtful and legally defensible way,” says Fiona Ong of Shawe Rosenthal. In a recent post on the firm’s Labor & Employment report, Ong articulates why.
In Minnesota, a health-care employee who had worked at a hospital as an aide for more than 30 years had a range of physical disabilities, Ong explains. When the hospital implemented new cleaning standards, aiming to streamline services, the employee was not able to meet them because of her impairments.
She requested accommodations, such as to be given more time to complete the tasks or to have other employees help her, but none was met and she was terminated. The court declined to dismiss this claim and the case is proceeding to trial, reports Ong.
“What this case illustrates for employers is the need to consider and implement carefully any new performance standards,” Ong says. She suggests they should be put in writing, communicated to current employees effectively, and possibly waived in certain circumstances, because of the need to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities.