As a complimentary service to our clients, Barran Liebman LLP provides valuable Electronic Alerts that summarize new case law, statutes, and regulations that may impact your business.» Subscribe To E-Alerts
After reading the Sixth Circuit's decision in Kroll v. White Lake Ambulance Authority, Case No. 10-2348 (6th Cir August 22, 2012), I'm reminded of the saying "no good deed goes unpunished."
White Lake was worried about the well-being of one of its emergency medical technicians, Emily Kroll. Co-workers had reported concern about her well-being, to the extent that she may be suffering from depression and have suicidal ideation. Her supervisor had received a complaint that Kroll had been screaming into her phone while driving an ambulance in emergency status, with lights and sirens on and a patient inside.
As many employers may have done, her supervisor and the office manager wanted her to seek help, either through its Employee Assistance Program or some other organization. They instructed her to receive counseling. She refused and alleged that she was terminated in retaliation for refusing to participate in an unlawful medical examination under the ADA.
Although the parties disputed several facts, the key issue before the court was whether the counseling constituted a "medical examination" under the ADA. This is not a simple issue. Indeed, the Kroll case marked the first time this issue was raised before the Sixth Circuit. Although Oregon does not fall within this Circuit's jurisdiction, the Kroll case nevertheless provides helpful guidance in addressing situations involving concerns about an employee's well-being.
If you find yourself in a situation where an employee appears to need help, don't let the Kroll case prevent you from reaching out to your employees; instead, use it as a guide of how to do it better. Perhaps ?better' deeds will go unpunished!
You may request permission to reprint a Barran Liebman Electronic Alerts by contacting Traci Ray by email or phone at 503-276-2115.