Take care when offering advice
Maintenance department Group Leader Stanley Rausch was, to state the matter kindly, a “strange duck.” He was so tagged by the entire department and employees in his own operation in particular. Although technically well qualified, Rausch antagonized workers and was a disruptive influence generally.
Maintenance Supervisor Don Strong was the first to concede that he had too long ignored complaints from employees that Rausch was abusive and insensitive to their needs. In the past, the group leader’s response when confronted was that the gripers were lazy and irresponsible and that everyone was against him. When asked for the basis of this contention, Rausch hemmed and hawed.
“You got a problem,” Strong said.
Strong said, “Want some advice, Stan? You ought to see a good shrink. Want me to set up an appointment for you with the medical department?”
“Well, you better straighten up, pal, or you may find yourself out on your butt.”
When the complaints kept coming in, Strong terminated the group leader.
Rausch didn’t take the dismissal sitting down. “Fire me and you’ll have a law suit on your hands.”
Strong chuckled. “Oh yeah? On what grounds?”
“On the grounds that you terminated a disabled employee. I’m under terrific pressure and stress on this job. I can’t sleep at night because of it. You yourself advised me to see a shrink or psychologist.”
Question: If Rausch follows through on his threat, how would you rate his chances of winning?
Morton’s response: “Retract the dismissal notice at this point,” Plant Engineer George Morton advised Strong. “If Rausch files suit under the Americans With Disability Act (ADA), he stands a good chance of winning. The fact that you counseled him to see a shrink could be cited as evidence that you felt he might be suffering from a disabling mental condition. I agree that the man should be terminated, but you’ll have to build a case against him unrelated to his psychological problems.”