A  Brooklyn, NY, employer has just paid $70,000 to settle a disability discrimination claim because it didn’t know how to handle an employee with ADHD.

Anywhere between 5% and 16% of the adult population exhibits at least some symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder). ADHD symptoms – e.g., distractibility, lack of attention to detail, impulsivity, restlessness – can look an awful lot like plain old performance problems.

Of course, if ADHD symptoms interfere with worker’s ability to get the job done, then the employer can take action. But if the company disciplines when it could accommodate, it could be risking a lawsuit for disability discrimination.

The key question to ask to avoid a disability discrimination claim: Can the employee do the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation? In the Brooklyn case, the employer apparently concluded that ADHD was too big a liability, even though there was plenty of evidence that the worker could do the job. (EEOC  v. Starrett City Inc., No. 06-CV-3230, E.D. N.Y.)

In the case, a housing complex refused to promote an apprentice mechanic with ADHD to a permanent job and ended up firing the apprentice. But the worker had performed well for four years and was the senior apprentice to apply for the position. The EEOC filed a disability discrimination lawsuit on his behalf, and the employer settled it for $70,000.

With greater attention being paid to adult ADHD, and with the EEOC considering rules that would offer greater ADA protection for such learning disabilities, you may want to review the accommodations your company can offer employees or applicants with ADHD.

The right accommodation will depend in part on which of three kinds of symptoms the person presents:

Inattention. The person seems not to listen, loses concentration, or fails to follow through on tasks. Try giving the person more structure through explicit deadlines and frequent performance check-ups.

Hyperactivity. The person is fidgety, restless and overly talkative. Try reducing the distraction in the work environment – noise, co-worker chatter, etc.

Impulsivity. The person interrupts or intrudes on others, and/or makes frequent impulsive comments. Try moving the employee’s work station away from others and/or closer to the supervisor’s.

If you need more information on disability discrimination or if you are seeking representation for a potential civil action, feel free to contact the attorney’s at Rouse & Co., LLC for a case evaluation. You can find general information about this subject matter by contacting: Dave Clemens,Editor-in-Chief, The HR Café Newsletter

Rouse & Co., LLC Attorneys at Law is an established civil trial Law firm, personal injury law firm, discrimination law firm that serves clients in Atlanta, Georgia as well as Snellville, Loganville, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Suwanee, Duluth, Norcross, Buford, Monroe, Conyers, Convington, Stockbridge, Riverdale, Jonesboro, Fayetteville, Douglasville, Decatur, Doraville, Tucker, Fairburn, College Park, East Point, Peachtree City, Midtown Atlanta, North Atlanta, Buckhead, Marietta, Forest Park, Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Union City, Roswell, and Sandy Springs; we serve communities in a variety of counties including but not limited to: Gwinnett County, DeKalb County, Clayton County, Henry County, Newton County, Rockdale County, Walton County, Fayette County, Fulton County, Douglas County, and Cobb County. Call us for immediate legal help at reasonable, fair, and inexpensive prices, cost, and/or fees. 
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