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Archive for September, 2012

Lindsey v. Foti – what happens when the employee claims their misconduct was caused by a disability?

“AN EMPLOYER MUST BE PERMITED TO TERMINATE ITS EMPLOYEE ON ACCOUNT OF EGREGIOUS MISCONDUCT, IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER THE EMPLOYEE IS DISABLED.”
Employers constantly have to perform a balancing act when disciplining their employees.  The employer must balance the safety and professionalism of its workplace and its workplace rules with the numerous laws which protect employees from discrimination.
But what happens when the employee claims their misconduct was caused by a disability?
The First Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana recently answered that question when Whitehead Law Firm successfully defended the employer, Louisiana Department of Justice, in Lindsey v. Foti, 11-0426 (La. 1st Cir., 11/09/11).
A staff attorney was terminated after making threatening statements in the workplace.  However, the employee claimed that his conduct was caused by his disability and therefore the employer discriminated against him by terminating his employment.  After the Whitehead Law Firm attained a successful Motion for Summary Judgment for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, the employee appealed to the First Circuit.  Analyzed under the Louisiana Employment Disability Law (“LEDL”), the Louisiana First Circuit held that “the LEDL does not provide protection for . . . unacceptable and threatening conduct.”
“The First Circuit used solid analysis” said lead counsel Jack Whitehead.  “The anti-discrimination laws provide a valuable shield to protect employees from discrimination, whether based on race, sex, age, or disability.  The Court wisely determined that the anti-discrimination laws cannot be used as a sword to promote violent, threatening, or inappropriate behavior in the workplace”.  The Louisiana Supreme Court declined to overturn the First Circuit.
*  To read the full case, see, Lindsey v. Foti, 81 So. 3d 41 (La. 1st Cir. 2011).

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