A recent California case shows the dangers of promoting supervisors without sufficient training. In Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express (California 04/04/2016),
Mr. Castro-Ramirez had worked as a truck driver for Dependable Highway Express (DHE) for three years with a good work record. Castro-Ramirez had a son who was on daily dialysis while he waited for a kidney transplant. http://case.lawmemo.com/ca/casram.pdf
Castro-Ramirez's previous supervisor had honored his request to be home by 8:00 pm in order to put his son on dialysis; no one else in the household was qualified to work the machine. (You had to take a class and be certified.)
When a new supervisor, Boldomero Munoz-Guillen (known as Junior), took over, Castro-Ramirez reminded him of his scheduling issues, but Junior refused to comply with his accommodation request, giving him a later shift then he had previously worked. The California version of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires accommodation of those who need to take care of their family members, as does the ADA.
Newly appointed supervisors should be given training
as soon as they are promoted, or preferably before.
When Castro-Ramirez objected to the failure to accommodate his request, and pointed out that the previous supervisor had always done so, the new supervisor laughed and said, "[He] doesn't work here anymore. Now it's me." He told Castro-Ramirez that if he did not do the route, he would be fired. Three days later he was terminated, allegedly for refusal to work the route. Junior did not tell the HR manager about the accommodation request.
The California Court of Appeals ruled that Castro-Ramirez had a claim for discrimination, and allowed his case to go to trial.
What Are the Lessons Here?
- Newly appointed supervisors should be given training on these kinds of issues as soon as they are promoted, or preferably before.
- HR should not agree to terminate someone without investigating their side of the story.
- All managers and supervisors should be trained to report all requests for accommodation to HR or some other expert.
- Accommodation requests can be complicated and need to be handled correctly.